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  #31  
Old 15-09-20, 00:53
Alex van de Wetering Alex van de Wetering is offline
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This may be of help:
Thanks Hanno; I visit the Archives website regularly.

These are the ones to study:

https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C4440973
https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C4440950

It says you can send a request for a quotation for a copy of the documents. Some members on ww2talk also offer to scan items in the National Archives; I just don't know the current options given the Covid troubles.


The recommendation for William Hall is available online though
https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C9050525
It does describe his actions at Overloon, but sadly there are no details on the name or census number of his tank.
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  #32  
Old 15-09-20, 10:50
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Originally Posted by Alex van de Wetering View Post
And some pictures of the inside.
I hope you don’t mind me posting these, in which I think the scarring is much easier to see:

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The fact that the internal bracing has also bent in that last photo to me points to a projectile rather than a shaped charge striking it. I would more expect it to have simply been gouged out with a shaped charge. It also shows the downward angle: the damage to the brace is slightly below the hole in the hull side.
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  #33  
Old 15-09-20, 12:37
Alex van de Wetering Alex van de Wetering is offline
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I hope you don’t mind me posting these, in which I think the scarring is much easier to see:
Well, I would have preferred if you had asked me first, than at the very least I could have added a watermark. Also at least one of the pics is the same....and the other failed to upload last night.
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  #34  
Old 15-09-20, 12:37
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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I wonder how well the lower area of the interior has been cleaned over the years and if any of the things found there were kept by the museum?

Two things can happen with a solid shot round striking armour. At the very least, one hopes the energy transfer is great enough to spall a chunk of inside hull free to fly into the interior to do damage to crew and equipment. As the size and energy behind the round increases, full penetration of the hull will occur and the round itself will bounce around inside the hull, greatly increasing the damage risk to everyone and thing inside, until the energy is spend and the round falls to the floor, spent. Given enough size and energy, of course, the round will pass right through the vehicle struck.

Alex mentions no sign of exit holes on the left side of the hull, so if we are looking at 15 to 20mm round penetrations, and they all came at roughly the same time, there would have been a lot of metal flying around the interior of Avalon for several seconds. Unless lodged in soft metal somewhere, if would eventually fall to the floor.

If the brace on the right side is bent, and relates to the flail drive, could the damage be part of the overall effects of the Crab hitting a mine?

Mine fields typically have set patterns/spacing for maximum effect for a given number of mines. If mines are set in a cluster too close together, hitting one can trigger more in the group. That might have happened with AVALON, breaking the flail and the track on the right side. Depending on why she was at that location during the battle, the crew may have successfully abandoned AVALON. A short while later, a German vehicle arrives on the scene, assumes an active enemy vehicle has been spotted and fires a sweeping burst of cannon fire at it until realizing the Crab is already out of action and moves on.

Another possibility could be mines took the flail out somewhere else. AVALON was on the move to withdraw when she struck another mine that broke her track and she was abandoned.

One other point to consider. There are anti tank mines and anti personnel mines. It is not unusual for infantry to be able to move through an anti tank mine field because not enough weight hits the mine triggers. Leading infantry can walk an anti tank mine field without spotting anything and then wave vehicles through, only to watch as the mines start going off. Be interesting to know if there is enough energy in an anti personnel mine to break a tank track link and cause little other damage. AVALON could have been used to clear any type of mine field in a hurry, not just anti tank, so anything is possible without more detail.

Maybe some answers are still sitting at the bottom of AVALON?

David
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  #35  
Old 15-09-20, 12:58
Alex van de Wetering Alex van de Wetering is offline
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I wonder how well the lower area of the interior has been cleaned over the years and if any of the things found there were kept by the museum?
David, when I was in the tank 10 years ago, the lower half of the tank was still filled with all sorts of litter from museum visitors; soda cans, snack packages and the like. I don't think the tank was cleaned all that often.....and they just closed up the hatches (except the escape hatch) to prevent visitors from entering (I am guessing somewhere in the 80's). However, I am sure a lot of stuff in the interior got damaged over the years in the museum from visitors breaking and stealing stuff, but also under influence from weather.
I am not aware of any remaining bits of Avalon in storage in the museum. The engine did get removed somewhere in the 90's/2000's and was in storage until a few years ago. It has since been sold and will hopefully power a restored Firefly soon.

I think both your suggestions on the final minutes of Avalon sound plausible.

Quote:
If the brace on the right side is bent, and relates to the flail drive, could the damage be part of the overall effects of the Crab hitting a mine?
I think the brace was either damaged by rounds coming through the sides, or from an internal explosion of ammunition. I don't think damage to the flail itself could result in damage to the brace.

Regarding mine damage; I read somewhere that when the Germans also had a habit of fixing an extra mine or extra explosives to a mine in order to increase the blast disabling flail tanks.
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  #36  
Old 15-09-20, 17:12
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Me again, Alex. Your worst nightmare.

Take a look at the photos of the flail beam in Posts 29 and 32 that you and Jakko added to this thread. Doesn’t it look odd such a large gap to the outside is visible through the right side hull? My gut tells me that gap should not be there.

To my tired eyes, there looks like a shadow outline around the edge of that hole which matches very closely to the heavy metal flange surrounding that beam. I think that flange was originally welded up against the inside of the hull and some external force has broken it free and driven it inwards about 4 or so inches.

If you take a look at the forward side images of that beam, there is a penetration hole with a slightly downward and inward angle. It looks like if that flange was flush with the inner hull, whatever penetrated the hull at that point, also put a notch into the flange beside the entry hole?

That would suggest the penetration hole preceded whatever event broke the beam free and pushed it inwards. It might also mean the large hole in the beam that entered the beam from the rear side and exited the front, may have happened when that part of the beam was still outside the vehicle.

David
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  #37  
Old 15-09-20, 17:33
David Herbert David Herbert is offline
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The damaged hull brace mentioned above (just to the rear of the flail drive chain case) is part of the standard Sherman hull and I have no doubt that it was damaged by projectiles that penetrated near it and then hit it. It is not made of armour so would be relatively easily damaged (or repaired again !). The only damage that I see to the flail drive chain case is clearly from projectiles / shrapnel, not from mechanical failure of the drive.

Internal ammunition explosions usually result in the turret being blown off or at the very least a catastrophic fire. I see no evidence of either.

I doubt that an anti personnel mine would break a track but it is certainly not impossible. If an anti tank mine broke the track there would be obvious significant damage to the floor and probably the front bogie.

As for the angle of the penetrations, I doubt that the tank would have been on exactly level ground or at the same level as the gun firing at it. Also if it did loose it's right track before being fired at, the right side of the tank would have dropped as it rolled off the broken track by about 7cm on a hard surface and at least 30cm if the ground was at all soft.

David
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  #38  
Old 15-09-20, 17:52
David Herbert David Herbert is offline
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I have just cross posted with David D.
The "flail beam" he refers to is just a casing that encases the flail drive chain that takes the drive from the input shaft flange at the back of the tank transmission to the outside of the RH upper hull. There are no gears involved until the gearbox on the end of the flail drum., just chain drives and the universal jointed shaft on the RH boom. The case has not moved away from the side of the hull. That flange is just the join between the two sections of the case to allow it to be assembled into the hull. The gap between the case and the oversized hole in the hull is because the hole is quite crudely hand cut by oxy-acetylene torch in the side of a complete tank, not in a proper factory setting so was cut oversize to allow some latitude in accuracy. The gap is protected by the armoured box on the outside.

Once a projectile has penetrated the outer hull, it could be going in almost any direction so do not infer anything from where it goes next or the internal damage.

David
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  #39  
Old 15-09-20, 17:55
Alex van de Wetering Alex van de Wetering is offline
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Me again, Alex. Your worst nightmare.
don't worry...I enjoy this kind of brainstorming very much!

There is indeed a gap between the chain drive case and the hole in the right side of the hull. I know from the crab manual (and I think also from the one Crab in Bovington), that this gap is supposed to be covered with steel blocks/plate, although I am not sure if all Crabs had this, or only later production ones.
The chain box is also fixed on the outside of the hull through springs to an angle iron. This fixation is still present on the Overloon example, so I don't think the gear is pushed inwards. The flange you see in the pictures is a flage to connect to pieces of the chain drive box together, it's not supposed to be flush with the inside of the hull sidewall.
The part of the chain case on the outside of the tank does shows some damage with the rearmost panel bent inwards. I always thought this was a result of the drive shaft snapping, but it could well be that this is indeed damage from projectiles.


Quote:
Internal ammunition explosions usually result in the turret being blown off or at the very least a catastrophic fire. I see no evidence of either.
Thanks David.....exactly my thought. The story is that Avalon was put out of action by a Panzerfaust that ignited some of the ammunition inside. At least that's the story that is spread on the web and probably also in the museum.
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  #40  
Old 15-09-20, 18:34
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Alex.

I whole-heartedly agree with the importance of finding War Diaries for the British Army units using Crabs at Overloon, to clearly establish who lost what, where and when. It would be great to have enough detail in the diaries that the lost equipment was identified by WD Number and or Name, if not in the daily reports, perhaps the status summaries that were submitted back up the system showing what was lost, damaged and in for repairs from time to time.

Currently, while doing Family Genealogy research in various archives in England that have no on-line access, I am finding many of them are either running with very low staffing or are closed even to staff to do research. That might be a similar situation for the archives you would need to work with.

Closer to home, however, you might be able to do some useful research outside the traditional military domain, that might help confirm the exact location of where AVALON came to rest.

Hanno recently posted some updates on COOKIE confirming it was brought in from another area and parked close to AVALON in the early stages of the evolution of the museum. Lets assume that was done as the easier option at the time, than trying to move AVALON, and the location of where AVALON is resting in those early photographs, is indeed her final resting place. If that final resting place can be located and confirmed, that is invaluable information for confirming what might be found in any War Diaries. Lets also assume for now, AVALON came to rest not too far from the current museum location.

If you look at the early photos, to the far left of AVALON in the background, there is a long, prominent ridge. It is hard to see details in a couple of the photos, but in one, the Sun is at a low enough angle to throw some good shadows that suggest the ridge has a number of finger-like protrusions extending from it. AVALON is definitely in a low spot in the foreground and in a couple of photos showing the background to the right side of AVALON, a smoother rise is noticeable.

What I am wondering about is the history of the Overloon Battle area. Was it/is it private land, or has it always been owned and managed by some level of local or national government, like a Forestry Department, Bureau of Natural Resources or some other agency? If any of the latter, it might be worth contacting them to see what information they might have about the battlefield from a purely geographic nature. Survey maps, or geographic maps of the area done in a small enough scale that they could pick up the differences in height seen in the early photographs of AVALON? And the older the better.

If such maps exist and copies can be made, my next step would be to identify the exact current location of the museum on the maps and use that as a centre starting point, searching in a spiral outwards.

The early photos with people visiting AVALON and COOKIE show no signs of developed roads. Would people have wanted to walk a great distance through the woods to get there in casual clothing, or were they transported in close enough for a short walk? Perhaps older survey maps might show trails or roads that could have been used to get people close enough to walk in.

Local maps might help rule out a lot of areas quickly. More interesting areas could be covered quickly from the air once the leaves have fallen, either by small aircraft or a drone. Best done in the early morning or evening when shadows are longest and provide the best contrast detain. Those ridges to the left of AVALON would be a key target to look for from the air. Once that has narrowed things down more, go in on foot and see what turns up.

Do you know if Holland ever undertook a national Aerial Photographic Survey anytime from 1945 to the advent of Satellite Imaging? If they did, that archive would be a goldmine of information to look at! Canada did a lot of Oblique Angle Aerial Surveys in the 1920’s but the details of that type of air photo are limited. In 1948, and again in 1964, the Canadian Government did complete aerial surveys of Canada using vertical camera imaging with an overlap rate sufficient to permit excellent stereoscopic imaging. Most of the work was done by the RCAF using modified Lancasters, but a private company called Spartan Aviation was also involved using Mosquitos and Hornets for a while.

Anyway, Alex. Food for thought. One does not always have to look for military things in military sources.

Cheers for now,

David
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  #41  
Old 15-09-20, 18:41
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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David H.

Thanks for the clarification of the hull opening for the beam assembly. Must have made for a very dusty interior!

Would you know if the Crab was intended to operate with a reduced ammunition load for the 75mm compared to the standard Sherman, and not withstanding the field expediencies of individual crews? I am just not sure how much extra weight the Flail System added to a Sherman, nor how much internal space was lost for the modifications, nor what, if anything was given up to make the modification work.


David
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  #42  
Old 15-09-20, 19:41
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex van de Wetering View Post
Well, I would have preferred if you had asked me first, than at the very least I could have added a watermark.
Sorry about that Watermarks are not something I normally bother with, so I didn’t stop to think other people might want to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex van de Wetering View Post
Also at least one of the pics is the same....
You’re right, I failed to spot that it was already in your post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
If the brace on the right side is bent, and relates to the flail drive
Are you referring to the same brace I was? Because if so, that isn’t related to the flail drive but is a normal structural brace in Shermans, and I meant the bend in it in line with a penetration, which looks like it was made by the round coming through the side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
Be interesting to know if there is enough energy in an anti personnel mine to break a tank track link and cause little other damage.
Some can, but it depends on the type of mine, the type of vehicle and probably exactly where it blows up under the track and wheels. Impossible to tell, I’d say, without knowing all of these variables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex van de Wetering View Post
I think the brace was either damaged by rounds coming through the sides, or from an internal explosion of ammunition.
You mean a penetrating projectile whose HE charge detonated, right? Because the interior of this Sherman looks too good for one whose 75 mm ammo had detonated. (Also: there was no 75 mm ammo storage in this area of a Crab, because the rounds went through the opening in the brace, meaning the flail drive chain case was in the way.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
Would you know if the Crab was intended to operate with a reduced ammunition load for the 75mm compared to the standard Sherman
See above: the right front ammo rack had to be removed to make room for the flail drive. Here is the right hull front interior on a restored M4A4:


(source)

The big white box just in front of the brace, with the silver-grey box stuck to its side, is an ammo rack for 75 mm rounds. You can just see the round retention clips through the opening in the brace. This whole rack had to be removed to make room for the flail drive, which goes through a rectangular hole cut in the hull side just in front of that brace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
I am just not sure how much extra weight the Flail System added to a Sherman
About two tons, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
nor how much internal space was lost for the modifications, nor what, if anything was given up to make the modification work.
Quite a bit, though of course the interior isn’t exactly spacious to begin with anyway. I built a model of a Crab with a partial interior (which I’d never have been able to do without Alex’s help, BTW), and was surprised at how much room that chain case takes up.
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  #43  
Old 15-09-20, 19:52
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Thanks for the photo, Jakko. Looks like the co-drivers position was also sacrificed with the flail installation, or got even more cramped than it otherwise was already!

David
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  #44  
Old 15-09-20, 22:42
Alex van de Wetering Alex van de Wetering is offline
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Looks like the co-drivers position was also sacrificed with the flail installation, or got even more cramped than it otherwise was already!
David, I am afraid it was the latter....thankfully he didn't have a .30 cramping the space even more (ball mount was there, but no .30 as it's behind the static part of the flail), but the chain case was right behind the co-drivers seat and above the escape hatch! See the pictures attached.

Also attached is a picture showing the flange in more detail, as mentioned in David Herberts post......and a picture of the 75mm showing damage to the shield.

Last but not least is a picture of the Bovington Crab showing one of the covering plates around the hole in the side armor, and also the spring fixing with the angle iron. I could't find any traces of the covering plates ever fitted to Avalon. pictures source:https://www.recomonkey.com/Land-Plat...rman-Crab-Mk-I

Quote:
Sorry about that Watermarks are not something I normally bother with, so I didn’t stop to think other people might want to.
No worries mate, but next time I have to report you to the MLU police

David; The Overloon museum is in a wooded area, but right next to the village centre; Back in the days when all exhibits were outside, the first exhibits were right behind the fence. Based on memory I think Avalon and Cookie were about 300 meters from the entrance. Next time I'll visit I will see if I can match the surroundings of the early pictures to the museum terrain, but as mentioned earlier the early pictures are said to have been taken in the museum rather than the battlefield.
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Interior1.jpg   Interior2.jpg   Interior3.jpg   Interior4.jpg   hole.jpg  

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  #45  
Old 16-09-20, 10:28
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Hanno Spoelstra Hanno Spoelstra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakko Westerbeke View Post
See above: the right front ammo rack had to be removed to make room for the flail drive. Here is the right hull front interior on a restored M4A4:


(source)
That link to photobucket may not show up on all browers. See my web page on Adrian Barrell's M4A4 restoration with interior photos here: http://www.mapleleafup.nl/sherman_sn5271/index.html

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  #46  
Old 16-09-20, 10:41
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
Looks like the co-drivers position was also sacrificed with the flail installation, or got even more cramped than it otherwise was already!
The chain case fits behind the seat, just (though that could of course partly be due to my modelling skills, or lack thereof ). As Alex says, at least the bow machine gun was deleted, because the whole flail mechanism and blast shield are in the way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanno Spoelstra View Post
That link to photobucket may not show up on all browers.
I couldn’t find any better, so I decided to link to it despite the huge banner over it. The weird thing is, earlier this year when building that Crab model, I had found that same site with better photos. I suppose they revamped it (it looks different than I remember) and moved the photos or something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanno Spoelstra View Post
See my web page on Adrian Barrell's M4A4 restoration with interior photos here: http://www.mapleleafup.nl/sherman_sn5271/index.html
Thanks, much clearer that way
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  #47  
Old 16-09-20, 13:24
David Herbert David Herbert is offline
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Regarding the bow machine gun, I was surprised to see that the mount is still present in Avalon - it is visible in one of the photos in post #29 - compare with the photo of Adrian Barrel's gun tank in post #45. I thought that the ball mounts were removed and the hole plated over or plugged but not in this case. There would be good reason for keeping the hull gunner as a crew member as another pair of hands when maintenance or repairs were required (or cooking or making camp).

As David Dunlop mentioned, the gap between the hole in the hull side and the chain case would have allowed vast amounts of dust to be sucked into the tank so I think that the crew would have very quickly plugged it with anything available - I have heard of socks being used to plug bullet holes, making the crew feel much safer as they couldn't see out then. The engine cooling system is designed in such a way that it sucks air from the tank interior through the propeller shaft tunnel and also the oil coolers on the bulkhead, then through the fan and the main radiator, past the engine and out of the back of the tank. This clears gun fumes from inside the tank but if hatches are open there is a huge flow of dusty or cold air into the tank. This can make head out driving quite unpleasant.

David
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  #48  
Old 16-09-20, 17:09
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Good Afternoon, Alex.

Do you have time for some ‘Wednesday Wisdoms’ from me before the ‘Wednesday Wines’ bell starts ringing here for me?

I noticed in your Post 31 you had listed your National Archive file findings for 1944 War Diaries of two of the 79th Armoured Division Regiments, but you had not listed anything for the 1st L and B Horse.

I am not sure if you are aware of this little wrinkle, or not, but even though the 1st Lothians and Border Horse are a Regiment within the British Army, they are in fact, a Scottish Regiment, headquartered in Edinborough. Consequently, it is very likely, their Regimental War Diaries for the Second World War are held at the Scottish National Archives, also in Edinborough. I would start any search for the War Diaries with that Archive.

The Regiment has a very long history and with the name ‘Lothians’ as part of their heritage, it is also quite possible their War Diary records could be held at County level archives, giving you three more possible alternate archive sites: East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian in Scotland. In any event the Scottish National Archive should be able to redirect you to the proper source.

One other small wrinkle. Make certain when searching, you use the name ‘1st Lothians and Border Horse’. Over the history of the Regiment, the name switched back and forth several times between, 1st Lothians and Border Horse, and 1st Lothians and Border Yeomanry. And on occasion both names were in use at the same time for two different Regiments, sometimes prefixed ‘1st’ and ‘1st’ and sometimes ‘1st’ and ‘2nd’.

Thought I would pass that on to you in case you were not aware.

Now to find my cork screw...

David
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  #49  
Old 16-09-20, 19:43
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Herbert View Post
I thought that the ball mounts were removed and the hole plated over or plugged but not in this case.
The Crab preserved at Westkapelle, Netherlands (the one I’ve been building a model of) also still had its ball mount. Well, until 2018 anyway, when rust caused the shield to fall off. Looking at photos from the late 1940s, so did at least two other Crabs left behind there after the war, but I don’t have pictures of the other three where the MG mount is visible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
I noticed in your Post 31 you had listed your National Archive file findings for 1944 War Diaries of two of the 79th Armoured Division Regiments, but you had not listed anything for the 1st L and B Horse.
I’m not Alex, but courtesy of Michel Sabarly, I have a PDF of the 1944 war diaries of 1 Lothians. The words Overloon, Boxmeer and Broekhuizen do not appear in it, a quick ⌘F tells me.

Browsing on to 1 October 1944, it says:
Quote:
0001hrs. Regt, with C Sqn 22 Dgns under comd, under comd 31 Tk Bde, in sp 3rd (Cdn) Inf Div. Located in area SW of Calais as under:
Tac RHQ - 807699 (Beauregard) Main RHQ & RHQ B Ech - 844583 (Boursin)
A Sqn - 812712 (Bonningues) B Sqn - 819563 (Le Wast)
C Sqn - 760650 (Uzelot) C Sqn 22 Dgns - 847583 (Boursin) Reserve detachment of 264SDS under comd RHQ
B Sec 30 Armd Bde OFP under comd RHQ.
Boursin
Pm. Tac RHQ rejoined Main RHQ. Warned of move to area Cassel/Poperinghe. SW of Calais
Day. RHQ and sqns - recovery and repairs. Rest and refitting.
The regiment spent the next month or so on or near the Belgian coast, which is, at a rough guess, 200+ km away from the Overloon area.
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Wanted: Flathead V8 'Crab' Distributor Cap ajmac For Sale Or Wanted 0 04-03-12 22:15
Three-Rivers Regiment sherman "Cathy" luc désormeaux The Armour Forum 19 30-07-07 18:24
Conger in Overloon, The Netherlands Alex van de Wetering The Carrier Forum 2 14-01-04 15:45


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