Death of a Tiger Tank

Interesting WWII newspaper correspondent’s report from Tunisia in April 1943:

Death of Tiger Tank

By Noland Norgaard

With the British 8th Army Beyond Sousse, Tunisia—(Wednesday)—Delayed—(AP)

The crew of a German Mark VI Tiger tank hastily set fire to the heavily armored machine and fled on foot when a spunky British armored car charged with its only machine gun blazing.

The story of the unequal encounter and its surprising ending was told today by a sergeant from Bath, the commander of the seven ton car which took on an opponent nearly nine times its size as the British 8th Army charged north through Tunisia.

“We poked the nose of our car over the edge of a hill and saw a Mark VI sitting there with its heavy gun trained on our troops to the east,” the sergeant recalled. “We left our other cars and skirted around to the other side and then came at the tank and directed our machine gun against the crew, who for some reason had dismounted from their vehicle.

“Two of the four crewmen got back into the tank and set it afire. They must, have some device ready for such a purpose because they were able to destroy it very quickly. The fire seemed to come from the motor instead of the spot where they were.

“Then the Germans jumped out again and hit the ground to avoid our fire. We captured them, and another of our cars captured the other two, who tried to get away.”

A similar incident between an M8 armored car and a Tiger tank during the Battle of the Bulge was reported in “The Battle at St. Vith, Belgium, 17-23 December, 1944: An Historical Example of Armor in the Defense” published by U.S. Army Armor School, Fort Knox, KY, 1966.

While the northern and eastern flanks had been heavily engaged, the northeastern sector (Troop A, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron; Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion; Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron) had been rather quiet. The only excitement there had been when an M8 armored car from Troop B destroyed a Tiger tank. The armored car had been in a concealed position near the boundary of Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron and Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, when the Tiger approached the lines at right angles to move along a trail in front of the main line of resistance. As the tank passed the armored car, the latter slipped out of position and started up the trail behind the Tiger, accelerating in an attempt to close. At the same moment the German tank commander saw the M8, and started traversing his gun to bear on it. It was a race between the Americans, who were attempting to close so that their 37-mm gun would be effective on the Tiger’s thin rear armor, and the Germans, who were desperately striving to bring their 88 to bear. Rapidly the M8 closed to 25 yards, and quickly pumped in three rounds; the lumbering Tiger stopped and shuddered; there was a muffled explosion, followed by flames which billowed out of the turret and engine ports, after which the armored car returned to its position. [This action was reported to Major Donald P. Boyer, Jr.. S3, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, by Captain W. H. Anstey (commanding Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion) who witnessed the engagement.]

Allied soldiers informally referred to any of the German tanks armed with high-velocity guns as “Tigers,” so in both cases the panzers in question may actually be panzers of other types.

 

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