Battleday September 19, 2004 “Welling Thirst” Allies vs. Axis Allies : Sherman “Jumbo”, Super Pershing #2 , Sherman “Easy Eight” Axis: Eric - PzKw IV Ausf F2 #317 ,Tiger I #S33, Marty – Tiger II #300
The Axis Panzer Division had advanced too far and the Division commander knew this, despite direct orders from Berlin to continue the aggressive advance. The supply lines were weeks behind and food, clothing, fuel and ammunition dangerously depleted. In fact upon entering the ruined town the soldiers, parched with thirst, leapt from their vehicles and ravenously drank from the only fountain in the town square. The burnt out town would offer little refuge as all the inhabitants were gone and much needed supplies as well. The Division had battled five days straight with no rest and continuously on the move. These precious few hours were to be the only respite for the soldiers.
The division extremely low on fuel, took up defensive positions in the burnt out town, many of the damaged vehicles now served as pill boxes or bunkers as fuel and ammunition was extracted from these for other more mobile, better armed vehicles. Of these reequipped vehicles, PzKw IV 317 was given additional rounds, Tiger S33 was allotted salvaged parts with ammunition and King Tiger 300 received the remaining drums of fuel. PzKw IV 317 took up position in the center of town near the fountain training on the only in town bridge spanning the river. King Tiger 300 lay camouflaged in the remains of a bunker at the edge of town some 1000 meters away. In addition, Tiger S33 hid at the edge of the farm woodland watching the small bridge at the far west of town some 2000 meters.
As expected at early dawn, a contingent of Allied armor approached in the distance through the tall grassed fields. Relying on surprise and being undetected, the Axis awaited the Allies to close distance. From the vantage point of the tank commander of PzKw IV 317, a Sherman Jumbo supported by a Sherman E8, approached the main in town bridge 500 meters distant while Super Pershing 2 negotiated fording a shallow creek to the west of town. A heavy firefight ensued from across the bridge as PzKw IV 317 attempted to avert access to the town by the Allies.
Under partial cover, PzKw IV 317 opened up on the Jumbo laying a hit on the turret. The Jumbo and E8 responded with one round striking the front left track damaging it and one glancing hit off the right turret side ripping a hole in the stowage box. As PzKw IV 317 attempted to maneuver out of line of fire, the damaged left track broke rolling off the sprocket, stranding the vehicle in the middle of town. PzKw IV 317 loaded another round and fired upon the Jumbo bouncing off the front armor plate. Both Shermans fired whereby one round penetrated the lower hull and another round lodged in the remains of a brick building spraying broken brick and dust over the top of the PzKw IV 317 turret. In desperation PzKw IV 317 spat a round at the on-coming Jumbo on the bridge. The explosion left a gapping hole in the bridge and blew off one of the Jumbo’s bogie wheels. The Jumbo continued its advance firing penetrating the lower hull of the PzKw IV 317 disabling the drive and starting a compartment fire. The crew bailed out as the tank erupted in flame and took cover in the town’s ruined hideaways. The Jumbo had crossed the bridge even with its lost bogie searching for other sentries, while the E8 on the other side of the bridge, noting the gapping hole in the bridge broke off to support Super Pershing 2.
From other accounts, Tiger S33 and King Tiger 300 laid upon the approaching Super Pershing and supporting E8 at 2000 meters. Super Pershing 2, by cover of a ravine, pummeled it out with Tiger S33 concealed in the tree line. Small trees in the wood line became decimated by Super Pershing 2 fire where Tiger S33 lay and likewise intense fire from Tiger S33 lifted great clumps of earth into the sky at the edge of the ravine from whence Super Pershing 2 held. The second smaller bridge became the battleground that must be defended as the only entrance to the burnt out town. From the bunker, King Tiger 300 punched rounds at the E8 across the river. The E8 returned fire smacking the bunker defenses while taking a hit to its hull side penetrating, however, this did not slow it down. In a rage of reckless abandon Super Pershing 2 charged toward the bridge concentrating fire on the area of Tiger S33. Before Tiger S33 could respond, larger trees fell on the 88mm gun and turret. Tiger S33 moved out of the wood line with damage to the elevation mechanism. As the E8 entered the ravine a fierce firefight commenced between Super Pershing 2 and Tiger S33 at 800 meters. King Tiger 300, at 1400 meters, added support fire rocking Super Pershing 2 with every hit as it crossed the narrow bridge.
Once across the west bridge, Super Pershing 2 planted a hit squarely on Tiger S33’s mantlet, seemingly stunning the vehicle while it maneuvered to the wood line where it gained partial cover. The E8 emerged from the ravine firing upon Tiger S33 striking the left side turret while moving towards the small bridge. Tiger S33 responded pumping a round into the E8 lower hull just above the bogies. Super Pershing 2 encircled Tiger S33 and punched a 100mm round into the rear engine disabling the vehicle completely. Tiger S33 lay dormant while King Tiger 300 trained on the E8 fielding a shot just short impacting the soft ground and under carriage of the E8. Super Pershing 2 maneuvered through the wood-line attempting to get a clear shot at the bunkered King Tiger 300. Slowly the E8 traversed the bridge and began to flank the bunker position while King Tiger 300 fired into the wood line connecting with the side hull of Super Pershing 2 blowing off fragments of metal and track.
From the east side the Jumbo came upon the bunker within 1000 meters and fired at the unsuspecting King Tiger 300. Fragments from the already ruined battlements fell crashing against the side of King Tiger 300. Enough debris fell to allow the Jumbo a clear shot within the bunker. Multiple fire from Super Pershing 2, the E8 and the Jumbo assaulted the bunker with devastating force sending exploding debris within and without the bunker. An external fire broke out from inside the bunker and plumes of smoke bellowed forth. King Tiger 300 sustaining no damage became stuck with the burying of debris. The direction of the other assailants could not be seen in the confusion except for Super Pershing 2 emerging from the wood line. King Tiger 300 beat the Allied tank to the punch, delivering a well placed round in the turret whereby Super Pershing 2 came to a stop and did not fire.
Like lightning striking twice, another barrage of fire directed at the bunker exploded into more debris with one round penetrating the left side turret of King Tiger 300 as it became virtually buried in concrete and rebar. The bunker became quiet and later investigation proved a large chunk of concrete had fallen crushing the main gun, a round still in the chamber.
The Allies camped for the night and drank from the town’s fountain as more reinforcements and supplies arrived the next day. The Allied advance continued.
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