Niels Henkemans was kind enough to share some of his expertise on the Normandy campaign with us:
“The Stu.Gesch. on p.32 and 33 clearly belonged to Stu.Gesch.Abt.1243 (the renamed 2./Pzj.Abt.243) as it was the only formation with those vehicles in the area. You can also ask Martin about this as we have been discussing this in the past. (Both Stu.Gesch. on page 27 of Panzerwrecks 1 (revised) also belonged to that formation.). Pzj.Abt.709 only had Marder I ‘Lorraine’.
The story on p.32 and p.33 of PW8 about who knocked out that Stu.Gesch. is incorrect. It was knocked out by the 57mm AT-gun next to the vehicle. It belonged to the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion (82nd Airborne Division) and the commander of the gun received a Silver star for knocking out the Stu.Gesch. When the crew pushed the gun forward past the vehicle (to get a clear LOS) the second Stu.Gesch. fired, taking out the crew. A soldier from the 505PIR took over the gun and knocked out the second vehicle. He received a DSC for that action. While it is true the 746th Tank Battalion also fought on that road, they didn’t arrive until later. That force included tanks from HQ section, the assault gun platoon and B Company. C Company did not arrive until later that day. The 746th clearly took out some Panzers on that road that day but they probably were further away from the town (in and around Neuville au Plain). It cannot be excluded they fired some rounds into the Stu.Gesch. (which looks like Swiss cheese) but if they did, they would have been firing at a wreck and shouldn’t be credited for it.”
From Hilary Doyle in an email dated 30 April 2009: Panzerwrecks 8, Page 82/83 caption – Your tentative identification of a Sd.Kfz.251/2 turns out to be correct – but you are lucky as the missing Panzerschild and mount is definitely not a reliable identifier on its own. I have scanned the picture on page 83 and outlined the definitive identifier – the special base for mounting the 8cm Gr.Wr.34. I had no space include a drawings of this mount in the Panzer Tracts No.15-3 in the Sd.Kfz.251/2 but I did get them in to PT 15-1 on the SdKfz.250/7.
Pages 5-7 of Panzerwrecks 8 show an intact Lg.s.F.H.13(Sfl.) auf Lr.S as photographed by a Canadian officer. In fact it is so ‘fresh’ that it still has tree branches used for camouflage. The tactical number on the superstructure sides is difficult to make out, but by analysing the top part of the first digit, we concluded it was a number 6, making the tac number ’615′. It would seem that we were correct, as a photo of the same vehicle appears on the website of the Benedictine University Library, taken by Master Sergeant Aloysius L. Hopkins. Other than the tactical number, the identifiers are the telegraph pole in the background and remainder of that distinctive camouflage pattern on the sides. See for yourself:
Click the image to enlarge or go to the Benedictine University Library website (opens in a new window)
Barry Crook’s capacity to notice the unnoticeable never fails to amaze. He pointed out what remains of the licence plate on the rear of the Wespe on pages 44 & 45 of Panzerwrecks 8. He says: “I should say too the last number is only a rough guess, as there’s virtually nothing to see. The rest of the sequence can be determined reasonably closely, given ’93′ is known to be the designated prefix of 12.SS Pz Div in many other photos of the period.
Another thing too – clearly the number plate was applied over the camo scheme, but it may be the number plate had received an additional light overspray of camo paint to tone it down in the field, judging by the way the layer of mud & dust does not seem to obscure the camo scheme as much as it does the number plate.”
Baz runs the excellent Panzer Wreck Proving Ground forum. Thanks for sharing the information Baz.
Normandy guru Fed Deprun was of immense assistance with information with which to caption the photos on Panzerwrecks 8. In fact most of the photographs were discussed by Bill and I, Barry Crook, Timm Haasler, Hans Weber and Fred in a collective manner. During one of these discussions, Fred showed us some images taken at La Chapelle-en-Junger in 2007. He says: “Relics I found two years ago from a Sd.Kfz.251/7 at the edge of a wood near the crossroads, the start point of the break-out to La Chapelle-en-Junger, certainly the same vehicle. The forest to the US lines were 200 metres from this point (several empty ‘Teller’ mines and heavy shell holes around).”
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge:
Base? of a T-Mine
Two ‘Übergangsschienen’ mounts.
Top of the ‘Übergangsschienen’ mount
Thanks for sharing these images with us Fred.