The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

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The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby weeladdie18 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:14 pm

The story as I remember it was that my father went on a troop ship from Birkenhead or Liverpool U.K.
in a convoy in 1941.... 3 months later the ships bunkered in Cape Town...
The ship he was on was a North Atlantic Liner ....For security reasons , no shore leave was granted .
After one week's bunkering they set sail for Bombay.... More regrouping and the ships landed at the
top end of the Persian Gulf. The British Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers set up a tented
base camp workshop at Basra with their own mobile workshops and Scammel recovery vehicles .
The Scammel Tractors were originally designed for transporting trailers loaded with lengths of oil pipe across the Sahara Desert oil fields. ....If I remember my family stories of my boyhood correctly, these vehicles had a 100 ton winch wire underneath the vehicle . ..
The Winch Wire operated to the front or the rear of the vehicle.
The N.C.O.s slept in tents on beds made out of engine crates for over 3 years.
An evening's entertainment was drinking French Beer in the Sargents' Mess ...
The beer glasses were made in the workshops from their empty French wine bottles.
The American Macks and Diamond T's arrived with the American Tanks heading for the Russian Front.
The reference to the Persian railway is worthy of note. The convoys went up through the mountains
and continued to run up and down the route for over three years.
I do not know if any of my friends have references to the geography of this operation.
All I can tell you is that the Persian Gulf was described as the " Backside of the Earth " and Basra
was believed to be a few miles up it..... .....Weeladdie......
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby Pdxfashionpioneer » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:00 am

Maybe no one was granted leave in Cape Town to prevent mass desertions! I mean, even in time of war/national emergency, who would willingly go "miles up the backside of the earth" if an alternative presented itself!

Comparing types of WWII tanks is a little tough. When the Sherman with the low velocity 76 mm gun was introduced in North Africa it provided the British with a game-changing tank because, while it was totally at the mercy of the German 88mm anti-aircraft guns, not even Rommel had an unlimited supply of those. In the meantime, the tanks Rommel did have were no match for even the original Shermans.

After the Germans introduced the Panzer 4, our wily British allies put extra armor plate on some of their Shermans and upgunned them and renamed them Fireflies. They were quite capable of taking out most of the panzers (German for tank) they encountered. As were the "Easy 8's," an American-produced Sherman variant with additional armor and a more powerful, higher velocity gun.

But what about the Tiger? It was the King of the Hill when it actually ran and had favorable terrain, which was seldom on the Western Front. On the wide open steppes of Russia it was nearly invincible. However, the Russians had a heavy tank, the KV-7 (unsure about the model #) and LOTS of T-34. The Germans didn't destroy all of the Russians' tractor and tank factories. Before the Germans could get to them, the Russians pulled out all of the machinery and workers and shipped them by rail over the Urals where they put the machinery back to work in hastily built factories. Often production started before a proper floor was laid and a roof installed. When you're fighting for your Motherland's survival …

On top of that, Stalin refused to authorize any changes to the T-34 except those that would make them cheaper and easier to produce. This strategy worked so well that in the Battle of Stalingrad, the local tractor factory kept churning out T-34's during the battle! They didn't bother to paint them with anymore than primer and as soon as that dried they drove them directly to the front!

Nonetheless, a functioning Tiger was more than a match for a Sherman or even a T-34 so how did the Allies prevail. As one German tank commander put it, 'Yes the Tiger had a 10 to 1 kill ratio against the Sherman, but somehow those Americans always showed up with 11 tanks!" The Russians were even more profligate in their expenditure of manpower.

Finally, a former officer in the Ordinance Corps called his memoir Death Traps, which was his assessment of the Sherman. He also pointed out that the Americans had such an effective battlefield recovery and repair operation that the armored division he and his comrades serviced used something like 7 or 8 times as many tanks as they had originally been issued. Clearly, some of those were replacement tanks, but most of those 7 or 8 were tanks that had been put out of action and returned to service.

I know, I know us overpaid and oversexed Yanks fought a rich man's war, but why send a man do something that a machine can do just as well?
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby weeladdie18 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:02 am

There is a story I heard somewhere ,that David Brown had a German Senior Engineer who was involved
with the design of the prewar steering Gear on the British Tank.....Before the outbreak of hostilities ,
he returned to Germany....When a Tiger was captured it was discovered that the Tiger steering gear
was identical to the British Steering Gear.....
the German armour plating was thicker than the British Armour Plating
There was another story that The Germans advanced towards Russia and with the number of
Allied Tanks approaching from the South,... the German Tanks were trapped in the Russian Winter.

The problems faced by the American Tanks in Old Salt's photos were first faced by the British Tanks
which attempted to support the Armies in the trenches in WW1

It is also suggested that the Regiments of British Miners dug their way under the German trenches
and set charges to physically blow up the trenches...it is claimed that is how the day was won in
1918.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby oldsalt1 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:07 pm

I figured I would repost my photos .

Like I said I was never in a Tank to Tank Battle The biggest problems were land mines and anti tank hand held weapons (RPG"S) But this isn't a place for war stories.


I will say the terms tomb on wheels and death trap take on an entirely new meaning when you ride around in one of these things for days on end.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby crfriend » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:26 pm

oldsalt1 wrote:I figured I would repost my photos .

Armour + soft ground = big mess. And it's not like you're trying to dig an MG out.

Thanks for the photos.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby FranTastic444 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:59 am

Did somebody mention tanks????

Collings Foundation American Heritage Museum, Hudson, MA.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby crfriend » Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:11 am

FranTastic444 wrote:Collings Foundation American Heritage Museum, Hudson, MA.

Impressive. That's maybe 10 minutes' drive from me and I've never been there.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby FranTastic444 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:57 am

As the crowf lies, it is about 13 miles from me, but it takes a while to get there across country.

It is a great venue, not yet officially open. They had a few 'soft opening' events over the last few weeks but are now closed to the public until April for the grand (official) opening.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby oldsalt1 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:20 am

This museum sounds great I definitely am going to take a trip up to see it.

In the mean time if you guys want pictures of tanks and armored personnel carriers I have a few :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby r.m.anderson » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:59 am

Is this museum one of those places where you can drive a real tank or tracked armored vehicle ?

Amazing when one of these 40+ ton tanks gets stuck the methods they use to retrieve it.
In a war battle zone can't leave it for the enemy to do the job increasing their arsenal at our expense.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby r.m.anderson » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:22 am

Ah forgot to mention it - Tanks a lot folks - ah that be all folks - leaving fade to black and all that sort of stuff !
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby Pdxfashionpioneer » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:31 am

Several years ago I had the distinct pleasure of touring the Colling Foundation's B-25 and B-24 when they came out to the Aurora, OR Airport.

While there are, all things considered, a goodly number of airworthy B-25's and even more on static display in museums, the Collings Foundation has the only B-24 that's still flies. As I remember it, theirs was acquired from the Indian Air Force.

I suppose there hasn't been as much interest in preserving B-24's as the other iconic WWII warbirds for the simple reasons that, as one video put it, "It was just a good enough aircraft," rather than a really noteworthy bird like its older brother, the B-17.

The B-17 couldn't go as far, couldn't go as fast and couldn't carry as heavy a bombload as the 24. But it was much more robust, as one B-17 crew member put it, "If you could just stay with the plane, it would bring you home." It was also good-looking and had an exciting nickname, the "Flying Fortress." That name had been coined by the press during the Depression.

By contrast, the B-24 had serious teething problems. As originally designed, it was difficult to fly. Charles Lindbergh, as its chief test pilot, solved that problem, more or less. Whereas the B-17 was as steady and stable as a rock, so much so that the pilot of the EAA's restored B-17 said they didn't like to turn, the B-24 had a tendency to wallow and consequently was hard to keep in formation.

[How about that! I just took an Off Topic thread off of its topic. Sorry, I didn't mean to.]

In addition, Ford's vaunted, purpose-built Willow Run plant took a long time to build and longer yet to get up to mass production speed. Once his chief production manager, Sorenson, sorted it out, the planes, pardon the pun, flew out of there.

On top of all that, it has a homely, utilitarian look about it. Only a mother could love it … but only if she didn't have a pilot's license.

For all of its shortcomings, the British came up with a package of modifications that became known as the B-24 VLR for Very Long Range. They replaced one of the bomb bays with fuel tanks, reduced the number of machine guns and fitted the remaining bomb bay with racks for depth charges and they had just what was needed to close the Atlantic Air Gap that had been infested with U-boats. Once Roosevelt told the US Army Air Force to hand over 70 -- yes, just 70 -- B-24's to the Navy for conversion to VLR's, the Battle of the Atlantic was as good as won! (See Turning the Tide by Offley for details.)
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby weeladdie18 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:24 am

Dave, Thanks for your post on the Anti U-Boat Patrols , this brings us back to the British Convoy
which took three months to go from Berkenhead or Liverpool area to Capetown in South Africa.

It has been suggested that they went north of the Western Atlantic U-Boats and then headed south
well off the American Coast,...then east to Africa ....I have not checked my navigation with regard
to the cruising speed of a Pre war Liner, which normally ran the route from Liverpool to U.S.A
Destination New York ?
Last edited by weeladdie18 on Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby oldsalt1 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:14 am

Amazing when one of these 40+ ton tanks gets stuck the methods they use to retrieve it.
In a war battle zone can't leave it for the enemy to do the job increasing their arsenal at our expense.


Thoes pictures were taken on January 1 1968 Things were going fine until we hit this one area that had a very high water table . It took us 5 hours to move the tanks about 500 feet . We would no sooner pull a tank out than it would go about 50 feet and sink


By the way the actual weight of an M48a3 tank was 52 tons
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Re: The Battle Tank at Basra 1941

Postby weeladdie18 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:17 am

The next factor regarding this Question is the Old Predannack Airship Airfield just
North of Lizard Point.
This was already up and operational against the U-Boats in WW I.

If I remember correctly in WWII the British and Americans were using this base again
to curtail U-Boat Ops.

If one drives around Lizard Head there are old bunkers and tower bases.
This was part of a Radio Direction Finding System To track the positions of the U-Boats when they
were on the Surface and using their encoded radio comms systems.

The whole radio system is another interesting story.

It would seem that the British Convoy to Cape Town went well off its normal route to
avoid U-Boats

It would seem that the British Convoy went well off the normal route to avoid U-Boats
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