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Interview with a Pz.IV Gunner pt.3 - Canadians


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Waelwulf #21 Posted Dec 01 2013 - 23:53

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View Postcollimatrix, on Dec 01 2013 - 20:04, said:

This was worth the wait.  Some parts of that definitely got my heart racing.  I have a few thoughts on this series:

Editing:

I'm a big fan of including all the material you turn up during investigation, and I've mentioned this before.  There are definitely instances where something you didn't think was particularly important turns out to be very exciting later, like that picture of the experimental jagdpanther autoloader Yuri Pasholok or someone turned up in the Hunnicutt archives.

That said, you did a really outstanding job editing this portion, and keeping it on topic.  Some parts were thrilling.  I'd still love to hear the non-combat bits of Bruno's story, even if it has to be cleaned up a bit and posted as an appendix or something.

I suspect he was a little more evasive and more general when talking about his experiences against the Canadians for two reasons: a) he lives here now and has for 60 years so experience has probably taught not to get into details as you might be talking to someone who lost someone fighting you, and b) he was much more forthcoming with little details about daily life, morale, replacements, supplies, rations, etc when he was talking about facing the Brits, Americans, and Soviets (including a distinction I haven't figured out between "Soviets" and "Russians")


Quote

Context:

Is there any chance you could find a map or something of where this was all going down?

British and Canadian sources are pretty good for tracking the unit's movement; I've been trying to do some digging for publically available sources aside from Stackpole Books. I really, really, really wish I could get my hands on the notes and lectures from the Hans Seigel he constantly mentions - turns out Seigel got along very well with the Canadians after the war and even gave lectures/tours to Canadian Staff Officers for years. Sadly only sources are at RMI and CACSC and they are non-release items. Maybe when I'm back in Toronto over Christmas I'll see if I can work some magic at RMI (I used to know the chair and some directors but sadly they have passed over the years)

Waelwulf #22 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 00:01

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View PostKaiserMartens, on Dec 01 2013 - 23:37, said:

Good Gods, that last part about the hebrew thing is spine-chilling.

I tried to find out more about it, but Bruno was not familiar with the old East Front vet and had always kept his distance from him as the vet was one of the "Party Fanatics" - from the sounds of things I don't think Bruno really processed what he witnessed.

ColinP #23 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 05:22

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The tanks and infantry then fell back once we destroyed about a squadron of tanks, and the panzergrenadiers managed to overrun a company of Canadian infantry capture two villages back. Meyer then ordered a halt and pull back to re-organize before we could push into the main body of the Canadians.

I wonder if he is talking about the BCR's getting slaughtered?

http://en.wikipedia....aught's_Own)

Legiondude #24 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 05:40

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View Postcollimatrix, on Dec 01 2013 - 20:04, said:

Having the steering spaz out on you like that must have really sucked in the turret-less TD and assault gun variants.
The effect would be annoying as hell to deal with, but I think the specific issue lies with late model Panzer IV's becoming front heavy from the increased armor and larger weapons, which was a notable issue by the time of the Normandy landings

rossmum #25 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 09:32

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View PostKaiserMartens, on Dec 01 2013 - 23:37, said:

Good Gods, that last part about the hebrew thing is spine-chilling.
Made me really appreciate that my grandpa never got captured, that was for sure.

Bitter_N_Twisted #26 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 15:07

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Thank waelwulf, great job.


View Postcollimatrix, on Dec 01 2013 - 20:04, said:


Technical:

Interesting to hear that the Pz. IV's steering was jerky and unpredictable.  My prediction: interviews T-34 drivers will have the same complaint, M4 sherman drivers will not.

Having the steering spaz out on you like that must have really sucked in the turret-less TD and assault gun variants.

I was a little suprised at the unpredictable steering as well.  I had read somewhere that Wittman would often traverse the hull of his tiger as opposed to turning the turret despite the increased risk of tracking it.

Hanz_Gooblemienhoffen_42 #27 Posted Dec 02 2013 - 17:05

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Great work Waelwulf

really appreciate you doing this....cant wait for more...

endless +1's for you...

collimatrix #28 Posted Dec 04 2013 - 03:56

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View PostWaelwulf, on Dec 01 2013 - 23:53, said:

I suspect he was a little more evasive and more general when talking about his experiences against the Canadians for two reasons: a) he lives here now and has for 60 years so experience has probably taught not to get into details as you might be talking to someone who lost someone fighting you, and b) he was much more forthcoming with little details about daily life, morale, replacements, supplies, rations, etc when he was talking about facing the Brits, Americans, and Soviets (including a distinction I haven't figured out between "Soviets" and "Russians")




British and Canadian sources are pretty good for tracking the unit's movement; I've been trying to do some digging for publically available sources aside from Stackpole Books. I really, really, really wish I could get my hands on the notes and lectures from the Hans Seigel he constantly mentions - turns out Seigel got along very well with the Canadians after the war and even gave lectures/tours to Canadian Staff Officers for years. Sadly only sources are at RMI and CACSC and they are non-release items. Maybe when I'm back in Toronto over Christmas I'll see if I can work some magic at RMI (I used to know the chair and some directors but sadly they have passed over the years)

Research like this is never easy; too many people have passed, too many breadcrumbs in the maze have been forgotten.  Good on you for doing it anyway!

View PostBitter_N_Twisted, on Dec 02 2013 - 15:07, said:


I was a little suprised at the unpredictable steering as well.  I had read somewhere that Wittman would often traverse the hull of his tiger as opposed to turning the turret despite the increased risk of tracking it.

The panzer IV had the fairly primitive clutch-and-brake steering system, same as the T-34.  It is not, I suspect, a system that lends itself to precision maneuvers.  The tiger had a Merrit-Maybach triple differential steering system, arguably the most advanced in the world at the time (well, aside from the char B).  Maneuvering the tiger was likely a good deal more positive and accurate.

Brickfight #29 Posted Dec 04 2013 - 04:57

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So, my maps aren't terribly detailed with eastern part of the Normandy landings (understandable since it's a US Army atlas). It's mostly annoying since there's nothing divisional between the OB West standing orders of June 6 until the Falaise Gap fighting. I'm going to bum my parents' scanner soon, but here are some of the things I've found:

-On June 6, the 12th SS was fulfilling its orders to hold just 20 miles south-east of Caen (near a town called Dreux). The Chateaus he was visiting at the time was not far away. It feels most likely that they were to hold the west bank of the Seine (worst case), counter-attack against a beach landing (best case; nearest landing looked to be Sword) or act as a responding force against any attack on Caen to prevent a breakthrough.

-After the landings, it looks like they were ordered to proceed to Caen to hook up with the rest of the 1st SS Panzer corps. (the other units being the 1st SS Panzer, and the 9th Panzer Divisions). They had 2nd SS Panzer Corps. on their left, and the LXXXVI on their right. Apparently, this is when the Abbey massacre took place. Looks like 1st corps. was tasked with holding the town proper, as well as the roads leading into town from the west. They held for a while against Allied XXX corps. I wish I could show you this, since it is fucking Monty.jpg. He's got one division looking east towards LXXXVI, with about 8 divisions trying to go down one road to skirt by the 1st SS corps and surround the 2nd SS corps.

-By August 1st, the 1st SS corps. was guarding roads east and south out of Caen, with some heavy flank support behind 2nd Corps. The last I see of 12th SS Panzer Division is just south of Falaise on August 19th, fighting the 2nd Canadian Division. It looks like they made it out of the Falaise Gap by a hair. By August 16, they were in a fighting retreat to protect the Seines against more Canadian Divisions. By the time they were in Belgium, the 12th looked wrecked, and were sent back to Germany and redeployed to the Austrian-Hungarian front.




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