Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Marcus » 09 Sep 2013 08:35

A selection of uncivil off-topic posts from dobromeister were removed.

/Marcus

Michael Kenny
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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 19 Jan 2014 15:24

An update of my original post:
Michael Kenny wrote:In short he was awarded credit for every tank found in the area after the action finished. A dozen or so of the wrecks were in an area where Wittmann did not go. Tanks he did not see, tanks he did not know about and tanks he did not even fire at.
It is not possible to say it was a genuine mistake.
I am sure it was a decision Wittmann played no part in making and possibly got used to the tactic in his time in Russia...



The interview Wittmann gave just after the action can be heard here:

http://www.wehrmacht-lexikon.de/waffen- ... /index.php

and you can make out his claim

Das waren einundzwanzig Kampfwagen, die ich dabei erledigen konnte und die Schützenpanzerwagen dazu. Ich weiss nicht mehr, wieviele das waren, das muss erst festgestellt werden.


transliteration:

that was 21 kampfwagen (TANKS knocked out) and Schützenpanzerwagen (HALF TRACKS knocked out)not yet counted....

Now clearly Wiitmann used the term 'kampfwagen' to mean tanks and he makes the distinction between them and 'Schützenpanzerwagen' which is carrers and half-tracks.

But.........

Wiittmann's use of the term 'kampfwagen' rather than 'panzer' in relation to the number 21 has led some to claim Wittmann was using the total number of vehicles knocked out rather than just the number of tanks.

But he specifically uses another term for half-tracks and describes them as in addition to the 'kampfwagen' and there is another part of the interview where he says:

Ich Bin mit einem Kampfwagen losgefahren, habe anderen Kampfwagen noch den Befehl gegeben

usually rendered as him setting out in one Kampfwagen (his Tiger) and telling the rest of his Kampfwagen (the other Tigers) to hold fast and not retreat.

So if the term Kampfwagen refers to the Tiger then obviously it also refers to the Cromwells. The only other alternative is that Wittmann is saying he attacked in a half-tack and not a Tiger!

It is now clear Wittmann himself inflated his kill claim and the fact the citation in his award documents totals the same 21 tanks('He succeeded in knocking out 15 heavy enemy tanks in a very short time. An additional six tanks were hit and their crews forced to bail out')
proves it.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 20 Jan 2014 19:15

So how many tanks and how many halftracks did Wittmann actually knock out, according to your research?

/W

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 20 Jan 2014 20:21

The total of knocked out tanks on Wittmann's route into Villers was given earlier.
4 RHQ Cromwells.
2 Stuart Recce tanks.
I Sherman OP tank
I Cromwell OP tank
.

If I take heed Wittmann's claim of an initial three tanks as he hit the road and count the one tank photographed as in that area then add 1 Firefly to give:

1 Firefly
2 Stuart tanks
4 HQ Cromwells.
1 Sherman OP tank
1 Cromwell OP tank.

That is 9 at the most.

Around a dozen half-tracks and carriers.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 20 Jan 2014 22:22

Here’s a list of each vehicle and its position when hit by Wittmann.

Point 213:
- 1 Cromwell IV (A Squadron, 4th CLY)
- 1 Sherman Firefly (A Squadron, 4th CLY)
Road D675 towards Villers-Bocage
- 8 half tracks (A Company, First Rifle Brigade)
- 4 carriers (A Company, First Rifle Brigade)
- 2 9-pounder anti tank-guns (A Company, First Rifle Brigade)
Entering Villers-Bocage
- 3 M3A3 Stuarts V (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 half track (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 4 Cromwell IV (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 scout car (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 troop carrier (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
Villers-Bocage center
- 1 Sherman OP (5th RHA)
- 1 Cromwell OP (5th RHA)


11 tanks, 14 half tracks/carriers, 2 anti tank-guns and 1 scout car.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 20 Jan 2014 23:09

I believe you are simply using Taylor's book and thus are incorrect.
To start there are only 2 Stuarts on the road not 3.
Wittmann could not see anything that was at Pt 213.
He says he hit 3 tanks in front the half tracks but there is only 1 tank in that position the firefly Blondie.

That makes it 9 tanks not 11.
Further there is only 1 6pdr on the road not 2. The second 6pdr is located somewhere else by a survivor.

The carriers and half tracks are difficult to count because the photos are not complete and anyway I am not counting them. The fact I am establishing is Wittmann is heard saying he knocked out 21 tanks when in fact the most he could have hit was 9.

the following vehicles coloured red were not knocked out




Entering Villers-Bocage
- 3 M3A3 Stuarts V (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 half track (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 4 Cromwell IV (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 scout car (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)
- 1 troop carrier (RHQ Troop & Reconnaissance Troop)

Villers-Bocage center
- 1 Sherman OP (5th RHA)
- 1 Cromwell OP (5th RHA)

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 21 Jan 2014 01:13

Everybody knows nowadays that 21 'tanks' was the way the story went into propaganda, a large part actually being half tracks and carriers. You really aren't telling anything new there. About the actual number of tanks, indeed my source is Taylor. I just wonder how you make your count and what sources you are using. Did you find new archives?

Still - knocking out around 20 armored vehicles in that fashion remains unrivaled. So for me Wittmann stays a commander who performed something out of the ordinary. Just my personal opinion.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 21 Jan 2014 05:16

WEISWEILER wrote:Everybody knows nowadays that 21 'tanks' was the way the story went into propaganda, a large part actually being half tracks and carriers. You really aren't telling anything new there.
I am telling you that Wittmann himself claimed he knocked out 21 tanks when his total could not be more than 9.
The story went 'into propaganda because Wittmann put it into propaganda.
The number is mentioned in his award citation and his 'kill score' rose by 21 tanks from 117 to 138.
Clearly the kill verification system (if such a thing existed) failed badly.
Wittmann did not confuse tanks and half-tracks because he clearly says that he knocked out 21 tanks and an unknown number of half-tracks.
This is no small error but a rather large inflation of the actual numbers.
WEISWEILER wrote:About the actual number of tanks, indeed my source is Taylor. I just wonder how you make your count and what sources you are using. Did you find new archives?
You do not need any 'new archive'. You just have to do a simple count of the wrecks shown in the post battle photos and films.
Taylor himself will tell you that he has revised his numbers since publication.
WEISWEILER wrote:Still - knocking out around 20 armored vehicles in that fashion remains unrivaled. So for me Wittmann stays a commander who performed something out of the ordinary. Just my personal opinion.
Indeed that could be true. So why did Wittmann feel the need to invent an extra 10+ tanks and claim credit for them?

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 21 Jan 2014 06:58

Michael Kenny wrote:Wittmann did not confuse tanks and half-tracks because he clearly says that he knocked out 21 tanks and an unknown number of half-tracks.
This is no small error but a rather large inflation of the actual numbers.
That's the point. He didn't clearly say he knocked out 21 tanks, and (above that) an unknown number of half tracks. His use of the word dazu might confuse you. He said: 21 tanks and halftracks, but how many half tracks has yet to be counted. So a group of 21 vehicles, of which the amount of half tracks is not yet known.

I believe it was rather the journalist interviewing him who was eager to speak about 21 panzer only. For civilians the difference between actual tanks and other armored vehicles being fuzzy, and not even of big importance.

Do you really think Wittmann would say that he had knocked out 21 tanks when it were only nine? When they were for the count standing in the streets 'around the corner'? He'd only make a fool of himself. In his interview he underlines different times that he engaged a tank rgt AND a half track battalion. He says that he engaged the tanks as well as the half tracks.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 21 Jan 2014 08:35

WEISWEILER wrote:
That's the point. He didn't clearly say he knocked out 21 tanks, and (above that) an unknown number of half tracks. His use of the word dazu might confuse you. He said: 21 tanks and halftracks, but how many half tracks has yet to be counted. So a group of 21 vehicles, of which the amount of half tracks is not yet known.
So it is just a coincidence that his award citation is for 21 tanks?


Das waren einundzwanzig Kampfwagen, die ich dabei erledigen konnte und die Schützenpanzerwagen dazu. Ich weiss nicht mehr, wieviele das waren, das muss erst festgestellt werden.


This is how Agte's book translated it:

I was able to take out 21 tanks, as well as the armoured troop carriers, I don't know how many, that remains to be determined.

But all this quibbling over commas and full stops means nothing. The fact is the sentence spoken by Wittmann can be read as a claim for knocking out 21 tanks and he gets the credit for 21 tanks. The Germans who made up his citation knew exaclly what he said.

WEISWEILER wrote: I believe it was rather the journalist interviewing him who was eager to speak about 21 panzer only. For civilians the difference between actual tanks and other armored vehicles being fuzzy, and not even of big importance.
The reporter was SS War Correspondent Hebrt Reinecker who had done several tours in Russia.
Two terms are used 'Kampfwagen' and 'Schützenpanzerwagen'. The meaning is clear.
WEISWEILER wrote: Do you really think Wittmann would say that he had knocked out 21 tanks when it were only nine?
He did say it and his award citation clearly says it:

Es gelang ihm, innerhalb kürzester Zeit 15 schwere feindpanzer abzuschiessen. Weiters sechs panzer wurden angeschossen und die besatzungen zum ausbooten gezwungen


He managed to shoot down 15 enemy heavy tanks in no time. Furthermore, six tanks were shot and the crews forced to bail out.

WEISWEILER wrote:When they were for the count standing in the streets 'around the corner'? He'd only make a fool of himself.
Yes he must have known everyone would be able (in 1944) to order copies of all the photos and would be writing to the German papers pointing out the mistake. The award citation clearly says 21 tanks so why did no one say it was 'making a fool ' of Wittmann?
WEISWEILER wrote: In his interview he underlines different times that he engaged a tank rgt AND a half track battalion. He says that he engaged the tanks as well as the half tracks.
He engaged a motorised rifle company (not a battalion) and 1 troop of tanks (not a regiment and not even a squadron) as well as some Artillery observation tanks.

He clearly indicates he accounted for 21 tanks and at all times the half-tracks are referred to separately


Auf 80m vernichtete Wittmann 4 Panzerkampfwagen Sherman, setzte sich mit seinem Tiger in und neben die Kolonne und fuhr, 10 bis 30 m neben ihr in fahrtrichtung feuernd, an der Kolonne entlang. Es gelang ihm, innerhalb kürzester Zeit 15 schwere feindpanzer abzuschiessen. Weiters sechs panzer wurden angeschossen und die besatzungen zum ausbooten gezwungen.Das begleitende Bataillon auf Schützenpanzerwagen würde fast völlig vernichtet.

From 80 meters Wittmann destroyed 4 Sherman tanks, positioned his Tiger next to the column and drove, 10 to 30 meters beside it firing in his direction of travel, along the column. He succeeded in knocking out 15 heavy enemy tanks in a very short time.
An additional six tanks were hit and their crews forced to bail out. The accompanying battalion in armoured troop carriers was almost completely wiped out.



Wittmann colluded with those who faked his kill claims and he had no problem accepting an award that falsified his actual kill total.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 21 Jan 2014 11:05

Yes, it's clear that the battle led to much controversy concerning the kill count.

The carriers such as Cardon-Loyd were also tanks, tankettes or 'Kampfwagen'. Kampfwagen being in '44 an oldfashion name for 'armored fighting vehicle', or WW1 name for the early tanks. As in Dutch 'pantserwagen' (armored vehicle) which can even enclude armored half tracks. So I'm sure Wittmann also ment these tankette carriers when talking about 'Kampfwagen'.

Image

Image



The British losses in the (total) battle were:
8th King's Royal Irish Hussars: 3 Stuarts, 2 6 pdr. ant-tank guns, 4 Bren gun carriers
4th County of London Yeomanry: 18 Cromwells, 4 Sherman Fireflies, 3 Stuarts, 5 half-track vehicles, 3 Scout cars,
Rifle Brigade: 9 half-track vehicles, 12 Bren gun-carriers, 4 Carden-Loyd Carriers
5th Royal Horse Artillery: 2 Cromwell tanks, 3 Sherman "OP" tanks

The German losses in the battle were:
101st SS Heavy Tank Battalion: 6 Tiger tanks were put out of action (of which 3 were later repaired), 1 Panzer IV
Panzer Lehr Divsion: 5 Panzer IVs.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 21 Jan 2014 11:31

WEISWEILER wrote: The carriers such as Cardon-Loyd were also tanks, tankettes or 'Kampfwagen'. Kampfwagen being in '44 an oldfashion name for 'armored fighting vehicle', or WW1 name for the early tanks. As in Dutch 'pantserwagen' (armored vehicle) which can even enclude armored half tracks. So I'm sure Wittmann also ment these tankette carriers when talking about 'Kampfwagen'.

So what was Wittmann referring to in this sentence?

Ich Bin mit einem Kampfwagen losgefahren, habe anderen Kampfwagen noch den Befehl gegeben

Are you saying drove into Villers in a tankette and not a Tiger tank?

Are you saying the rest of his men were in tankettes rather that Tiger tanks?

Wittmann used the word 'kampfwagen' 3 times in the broadcast.

The first time in relation to 21 knocked out British Kampfwagen.
The other two times when talking about German kampwagen.

If , as it is obvious from the context, he referred to Tiger tanks twice as kampfwagen then it follows that the previous time he used kampfwagen it means British tanks.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 21 Jan 2014 13:28

Michael Kenny wrote:
WEISWEILER wrote: The carriers such as Cardon-Loyd were also tanks, tankettes or 'Kampfwagen'. Kampfwagen being in '44 an oldfashion name for 'armored fighting vehicle', or WW1 name for the early tanks. As in Dutch 'pantserwagen' (armored vehicle) which can even enclude armored half tracks. So I'm sure Wittmann also ment these tankette carriers when talking about 'Kampfwagen'.

So what was Wittmann referring to in this sentence?

Ich Bin mit einem Kampfwagen losgefahren, habe anderen Kampfwagen noch den Befehl gegeben

Are you saying drove into Villers in a tankette and not a Tiger tank?

Are you saying the rest of his men were in tankettes rather that Tiger tanks?

Wittmann used the word 'kampfwagen' 3 times in the broadcast.

The first time in relation to 21 knocked out British Kampfwagen.
The other two times when talking about German kampwagen.

If , as it is obvious from the context, he referred to Tiger tanks twice as kampfwagen then it follows that the previous time he used kampfwagen it means British tanks.
I'm saying that 'Kampfwagen' is a general name for armored fighting vehicle. Heavy tanks as well as light tanks or tankettes, like the Cardon-Loyd carrier and the Bren gun-carrier. So he referres to his own tank (Tiger) as a Kampfwagen, but the carriers are also Kampfwagen. And 20 of those small tanks were destroyed during the entire battle, how much by Wittmann I don't know.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by Michael Kenny » 21 Jan 2014 16:30

The evidence is there for the reader to make up his own mind. It is clear that Wittmann uses the word kampfwagen to refer to his Tigers and thus the use of the word Kanpfwagen with the number '21' is him saying he knocked out 21 tanks.
His award citation clearly says 21 tanks.
He knew the number was wrong and yet he still said it and accepted an award for it.

There is nothing more I can add.

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Re: Wittmann, Villers Bocage and his kill claims.

Post by WEISWEILER » 21 Jan 2014 17:21

Still, it's not that hard to understand, is it? He never said he knocked out 21 Panzer, he said he destroyed 21 Kampfwagen.

The Germans made no distinction between heavy and light tanks when they used the term 'Kampfwagen'. They did however made a distinction between a tank and a personnel carrier (or half track). The first carrying a gun, the latter carrying troops.

So in the German point of view IF Wittmann destroyed say 9 tanks and 12 gun carriers, they will mention '21 Kampfwagen destroyed', or even '21 Panzer destroyed'.

You cut out every vehicle which is not a heavy tank, to conclude the countings were "heavily inflated". You ignore the fact that Wittmann didn't even talk about Panzer but about Kampfwagen.

My idea is that it's virtually impossible to make a count of Wittmann's hits, because the battle succeeded after the solo action. Other German Panzer (-kampfwagen) jumped in and made there own kills. Eventually there were - apart from heavy tanks and half tracks - no less than 20 carriers (Bren Gun and Carden-Loyds) destroyed. 20 light tanks or in German: 20 Kampfwagen.

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