Friday, February 16, 2007

Misfires on the Sherman Mark IV 75mm


I initially posted this on another site and then thought it might cause some interest here.

I am reminded of the only experience I ever had with a misfire.

It was in Jan 1945 and I was being re-trained as tank-crew at Rieti in the centre of Italy.

We were firing 75 mm rounds from a Sherman Mark IV and had just loaded HE in the normal manner, that is, I, as loader, had just punched the shell into the breech and swung away to my left to avoid the recoil from hitting me in the shoulder.
The gunner kicked the pressel switch, I did my "swinging" action but NOTHING happened.
Panic all round and then the three of us shot out of the turret hatch and madly scrambled away from the tank.
"Where do you think you're going ?" bellowed the instructor and with much embarrassment (and not a little fear) we had to retread our steps, get back in the turret and go through the procedure of getting rid of a dud round.
I still go cold at the memory and offer up a belated hymn of praise to all the instructors who faced death daily because of their students stupidity.


Blogger Tomcann said...

Ron -
As you recall we were at Rieti around the same time a I was released from hospital in the middle of january and - after a week lounging around in the luxury of the convalescent camp at Torre Annunziata - I joined the Armoured car div which was in the rh building from the entrance.
In all my times loading and firing guns in all types of Tanks and cars ... never once did I have a misfire... nor a broken track even in the wildest rides... nor an engine breakdown... only thing untoward was at the end of a battle one day - the 19 set went Kerfluui.. and we could'nt find anyone and so we had to sit on the edge of the battlefield all night - biting our nails etc in case of a Gerry patrol caught up with us - it was hairy and next day the signals bod took three hours to figure out what was wrong !!!

Friday, 16 February, 2007  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


In my mental folder under "Hairy moments" I found the following.

In the closing stages of the war our Honey tank was temporarily hors de combat because of barbed wire tangled round a track sprocket.

While we frantically struggled to free ourselves it got dark and the rest of the Squadron moved ahead.

When we finally managed to do the necessary, Busty Thomas, our tank commander, used the 19 set to ask HQ for a flare to be sent up to point us in the right direction.

HQ duly obliged and put up three flares, one after the other, but we couldn't see them and things started to look dodgy.

Finally, it was only when Hewie, our driver,finally turned round 90 degrees and said "It's the other bloody way !" that we realised how completely dis-oriented we had been and, with much relief, we were able to join the others.

Friday, 16 February, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

I certainly know that feeling Ron as many a time we incurred the wholesale wrath of the signals when we tore up miles of their wires which clogged the sprockets and it always seemed that it was joe muggins who had to get out with a cold chisel and hammer to chop all the wires away - no matter how much mayhem was going on at the time. I think that was where I learned to swear.
I was always glad that we kept the tracks in one piece as fixing those was a monstrous task on the battlefield - or anywhere else actually including cold and wet Barnard Castle.

Saturday, 17 February, 2007  

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