Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung 100 in Normandy (Long post)

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Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung 100 in Normandy (Long post)

Joined: April 27th, 2005, 6:41 pm

December 5th, 2006, 6:37 pm #1

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

Last edited by Niels Henkemans on December 5th, 2006, 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: May 7th, 2005, 11:54 am

December 5th, 2006, 7:07 pm #2

This is what makes ML the best site for research!

I myself am in the planning stage of a La Fiere diorama, featuring the attack of the 325th across the causeway on June 9th, and so I need to know what wreckage was there! This really helps, especially if there was indeed a Pz III there. Any idea what make/mark of Panzer III it was?

Also, what happened to the truck the 82nd troops had pushed across the road at the end of the bridge? How come it never appears in any photos?

Wonderful, time-consuming, work you've done there.

Rob
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Joined: November 22nd, 2005, 7:07 pm

December 5th, 2006, 7:18 pm #3

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

Really good post, I think it will have taken you longer to compile than they lasted in action ! Alan
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Joined: April 27th, 2005, 6:41 pm

December 5th, 2006, 7:25 pm #4

This is what makes ML the best site for research!

I myself am in the planning stage of a La Fiere diorama, featuring the attack of the 325th across the causeway on June 9th, and so I need to know what wreckage was there! This really helps, especially if there was indeed a Pz III there. Any idea what make/mark of Panzer III it was?

Also, what happened to the truck the 82nd troops had pushed across the road at the end of the bridge? How come it never appears in any photos?

Wonderful, time-consuming, work you've done there.

Rob
Well this is how this hobby works, you start out with a small question and this is the result.....
About your questions I'm not an expert on PzIII's but I think it's a late type (Look at the cupola) with an early idler. I'll let the final word to the experts on this.
About the truck. That's a good question. I wish I had some pics showing the actual bridge. Some sources mention however that there was a tank KO on the bridge itself(!) this could very well mean it pushed the truck aside. One of the problems is to identify the material used in the different attacks. Apart from that it's also a question when the material was pushed of the road. For now it seems impossible to tell where they were KO'd exactly.

Grtz Niels

http://groups.msn.com/dutchmodelbuilding
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Joined: February 28th, 2005, 5:19 am

December 5th, 2006, 9:09 pm #5

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

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Joined: April 22nd, 2005, 12:00 am

December 5th, 2006, 10:42 pm #6

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

Good job

Luke
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Joined: April 22nd, 2005, 4:32 am

December 6th, 2006, 12:12 am #7

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

Excellent piece of work there, well done indeed.

Regards,
Gary D.
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Joined: April 5th, 2004, 3:57 am

December 6th, 2006, 1:27 am #8

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

If Barry Crook was still here I'd say "move over Baz"
very impressive work
thanks very much
Cheers Elliott
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Joined: May 1st, 2003, 9:43 pm

December 6th, 2006, 9:12 am #9

Hello everybody,
As some of you may know I’m interested in captured French equipment in Normandy, and Normandy as a whole of course. I presume the French conversions and material used by the 21st PzDiv are well known. Trumpeter (and hopefully Bronco) didn’t do them for nothing. Apart from 21Pz there were many other units that fielded ex-French material. One of that units was Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungsabteiling 100 (I’ll use “PzAbt100” from now on btw). Inspired by some nice High-res images that can be found at www.archivesnormandie39-45.org I’ve made a more detailed analysis of the equipment of this rather strange unit.

How strange it was can be seen if you look at it’s composition on May 18th 1944. According to the information of Niklas Zetterling (http://web.telia.com/~u18313395/normand ... pzabt.html) the Abteilung had the following material available:
14 R 35
8 Hotchkiss
1 Somua
1 Char B2
1 PzIII
5 French tanks with short 37mm guns, probably FT-17’s

In PINTAN Eric Lefèvre comes up with the theoretical organisation of the unit, but his information doesn’t indicate the actual strength. It isn’t strange therefor their numbers differ. They do agree on the types of armour, though PINTAN does not mention the presence of other French short barrelled 37mm tanks.
The only thing PINTAN mentions about the actual strength of the unit is having some 15 tanks available at the time of the invasion. Where that information comes from and whether or not it includes combat ready vehicles and vehicles in repair I do not know. I do have serious doubt about these numbers. By counting the tanks claimed to have been destroyed by 82AB, you easily go over 25. For this reason and because of the age of PATBON compared to the research of Zetterling and his numbers on the actual strength of the unit, I’ll follow the latter for my analysis. Before I start I must say I’m far from an expert on French material so it’s very well possible I’ve missed or misinterpreted details. I hope I can raise an interesting discussion with my research and hopefully new ideas, facts and pictures will show up.

La Fière Bridge
Now, let’s take a look at how much can be shown about this unit. The most famous engagements of PzAbt100 are without doubt the actions around La Fière bridge. Those action therefor form a good start to take a better look at the unit. In different reports the presence of Renaults and Hotchkisses is mentioned, though the stories differ. Some stories seem to suggest all tanks there were Hotchkisses, while others give the impression they all were Renaults. As other people already noticed the vehicles used at the bridge were in fact a mix of those types. I’ll illustrate that here.

Let’s start with a comparison of 4 different images. I believe these images show the area at La Fière bridge and three German tanks that attacked it. I’m not yet a 100% sure about the exact position of the tanks on the different pictures, but I think my guess is fairly accurate.


Source of the front shot: http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/page96.html
Source of the aerial view: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... -p124.jpgx
Source of the British Pathe shots: Movie number 1981.12

Hotchkiss
In his numbers Zetterling mentions 8 “Hotchkisses”. The problem with just the word “Hotchkisses” is that it’s too general. It might include the H35, H38 and H39 (As I do not know enough to make any distinction between H38 and H39 tanks, I’ll group these under “H39” for now). So it’s impossible to say what versions were being used by the Abteilung. The available images can shed some light on this however.

If we look at the rear most vehicle, it can clearly be seen this is a Hotchkiss. One way is by looking at the six roadwheels. Though difficult to see it appears on the frontal view that the drivers visor is of to the right of the vehicle. Which is also typical for a Hotchkiss. The wheels appear to be all metal indicating a H39 as H35’s were fitted with rubber rimmed roadwheels.


R35
The other vehicle is a R35. Indicated by the position of the exhaust and the wheel on the rear of the hull. The location of the drivers visor to the left of the vehicle also illustrates that.


The front vehicle again is a R35, with the visor to the left. However, most telling is a picture after it was pushed out of the way. The attachments for the two double bogies and a single bogie say it all.


In case there are doubts that the vehicles on the different image are indeed the same, take a look at the following comparison:


PanzerIII
According to Zetterling the Abteilung indeed had the lone PzIII it was intended to have. There also might be proof of that. The British Pathe movie that shows the R35 and Hotchkiss also includes this shot from a PzIII. Because both PzIII’s and French tanks were rare in Normandy, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence these vehicle show up in the same film (and at the same vehicle dump as you’ll see later). I don’t think it’s just a matter of editing that brings these rarities together. I think it’s possible to proof it ended up at the bridge somehow. According to John "Red Dog" Dolan (Company Commander of A Company 505 PIR) : “They attacked with three tanks, which I was unable to identify for sure; but they appeared to be similar to the German Mark IV type, or maybe a little lighter”. Though evidently he’s not sure about the types used (there were not even PzIV’s in the area) PzIII’s do look quite similar. But they are certainly much different from the French material that also was around. Mistaking a Hotchkiss or Renault for a PzIV would be a bit much, even though of course weirder things have happened in war and I can imagine panzer identification is not your main concern. My point is this: it’s possible he in fact saw a PzIII and didn’t look to hard at the other types. Not too strange with bullets and shells flying around….
Apart from this idea, I think there is photographic evidence to proof there was a PzIII used at the bridge. It might even have come the closest to the bridge.
First take a look at the vehicle I’m talking about:


It seems there are similar tracks laying around at the bridge. (There shouldn’t have been any other PzIII or PzIV based vehicles in the area)


Apart from the presence of the tracks there is another indication that puts the PzIII at the bridge:


Now these roofs are very distinct for a particular building around the Bridge:

As a side note, I wander what you think about the turret bin on the PzIII? To me it looks like is has a number in dark outlines and maybe a light interior colour. To me the number seems to be 324. Going by some other images there is also proof this type of numbering was used with PzAbt100:


According to the caption this tank should be on the La Fière Causeway. If that’s true it might be the R35 KO’d at the right of the road. I do have doubts about the exact location of this R35 however. The area doesn’t seem consistent with the other images of the causeway. There appears to be some quite dense woodland behind the vehicle, something not very typical for the causeway. Apart from the terrain, the vehicle gives little to work with. If it is indeed one of the vehicles at the bridge it can only be the at the left of the road (looking from the bridge), were the trees and bushes also seem quite thick. Unfortunately there’s not much to prove these are the same vehicle. Both seem to have an open rear turret hatch and possibly some damage at the rear of the left fender and an intact antenna. Not a strong case. Apart from similarities there are also differences. The exhaust on “522” appears to be damaged and it has an open hatch in the hull rear. Though this might have happened after the other pictures were taken, it doesn’t make it more likely this picture was indeed taken at the bridge.

I do find it more likely however that the following image was taken at the causeway. The type of telegraph-pole is similar to other examples along the causeway. I’m positive this is not the same Hotchkiss as on the images above. A reason for this is that it’s located next to, or slightly behind a telegraph pole. None of the other vehicles can be seen in such a position. Other, stronger, proof that this is not the same H39 is the lack of a trench skid. It’s however impossible to be sure that this picture was taken on the causeway. The telegraph-pole could indicate the same road but not much more. The reports from eye witnesses however seem to leave space for another KO/damaged tank. According to the reports there have been two tank attacks. One on D-Day with 3 tanks, and another one on D+1 with two tanks. According to a report on the 2nd attack, both tanks were destroyed (by a 57mm AT-gun). The first attack has some different reports. Some say all three tanks were destroyed, while it is also claimed one was hit but managed to back away. In each case on the “overall” picture only 3 tanks can be seen as well as the tracks from the PzIII, so 4 in total. Perhaps this other H39 managed to back away and was it abandoned a little further.


French material at the Cotentin
While this analysis illustrates the presence of H38/39’s and R35’s in the Abteilung there are still some questions. Especially if the H38/39 was the only type of Hotchkiss used. A rather well known image of a collection point might shed more light on this. Low-res images do not really provide enough to go by, but the High-res image from Archives Normandie shows a lot of details (High-res: http://www.archivesnormandie39-45.org/P ... 13414.jpgx) I’ve reasons to believe this vehicle dump includes vehicles from both PzAbt100 and PzAbt206, so I’ll use this image to make some more general remarks on ex-French material in the US sector.


Hotchkiss
Different types of Hotchkisses can be difficult to identify. I do believe however most Hotchkisses in this collection dump are in fact H38/39. The following shots clearly show the configuration of the engine deck as seen on H38/39.


Two Hotchkisses are difficult to identify however. The first one appears to be having horizontal mounted spare road wheel, extending well behind the rear of the hull, a feature typical for the H35.


The second vehicle, however, I’m unable to identify. The sprocket clearly shows it’s a Hotchkiss but without more detailed information about the hull, I can’t say anything more about this example.


R35
Apart from Hotchkisses there are also some R35’s on the image. By looking at the rear of the vehicles, four R35 can easily be identified.


FT-17’s
While Hotchkisses and Renaults are uncommon, there is an even rarer example at this collection point: an FT-17. Even though the presence of FT-17’s in Normandy isn’t anything new, I’m not sure how many pictures prove their presence there. The only FT-17 I remember seeing, is the example in this collection point As I’m not aware of any other units that might have had FT-17’s in Normandy I presume this example is indeed from PzAbt100. This would mean that Zetterling is indeed correct in assuming that the “5 tanks with short-barrelled 3,7cm guns” were FT-17’s.


Char B2
Though both PzAbt100 (1) and PzAbt206 (X normal, 3 flamethrowers) should have had CharB1. Pictures of them are hard to find. Some years ago I found several images on the internet however. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but they might have been taken by the US 90ID. The images come from a group of pictures taken at a vehicle dump somewhere in Normandy.
The first picture appears to show a normal CharB1, though turretless. It’s definitely not a Flamethrower. Also note the FT17 and 2 tanks (probably both R35’s) at the right of the CharB1.


On a second image taken at the collection point another CharB1 can be found. It’s clearly a different example as it’s missing the left track. Apart from that the PzIII is noteworthy. Just like the example at the bridge it has a late cupola and early sprocket. With my little knowledge of PzIII’s I think this is a very unusual combination and I’m convinced this is indeed the same vehicle as near La Fière bridge.


To come back to the Chars, apart from PzAbt206 and PzAbt100 it’s remotely possible these Chars belonged to PzAbt213 that was stationed on the Channel Islands. However those Islands were still in German hands until well into 1945. PzAbt213 therefor doesn’t seem to be a very likely option to me. There appears to be damage on at least one of the tanks (missing tracks) and the missing turret might also be related to battle use. AFAIK their were no battle on the Channel Islands. And the Germans surrendered at the end of the war without fighting. Now I do not know if they also surrendered their vehicles in good condition or they did disable them. But maybe some of you might be able to say anything on this. Any way, looking at the complete picture, the option of PzAbt213 has to many “ifs” for me to be considered a real candidate.

Somua
Till now I’ve not seen any images of Somua’s in Normandy, so I won’t say anything about them here. I’m of course very interested to see images of them. So don’t hold them back

Markings and units
So if my observations and interpretations are correct, we can say for sure PzAbt100 did indeed have R35, H38/39, a PzIII and probably FT-17. What units the specific vehicles in the dump belonged to is difficult to say however. There are reasons to suggest there are vehicles from both units presents here. The style of the markings is probably the most obvious. It’s difficult to say if the H35 at the back really has a Balkenkreuz on its turret or that it is a turret number after all. On the vehicle in the front it might look like the numbers go all the way to the front of the turret, but remember that the left side is considerably longer. What is clear however is the stencilled “4” on the turret in the rear. Something that can not be seen on the vehicle at the front. The “possible” numbering style on this vehicle would also be different from the white with black outline we’ve seen earlier.


Apart from that there appear to be 8 Hotchkisses on the picture. To me it seems unlikely all 8 Hotchkisses from PzAbt100 would be collected so neatly. Especially because (according to PINTAN) PzAbt206 should have had not 8 but 14 Hotchkisses (on June 1). Considering just the numbers it should be possible at least some vehicles from PzAbt206 should be there too. It is unlikely however that all vehicles belonged to that unit, as there were no FT-17’s reported and only 2 R35’s (while the image shows 4). A mix of both units therefor seems logical.

Apart from this image, there are other reasons presume the “black with white outlines” belonged to PzAbt206 and not to PzAbt100. Another British Pathe film has the following shots of a vehicle dump. Possibly the same dump at a different time.
In each case the first image shows two R35’s on the left and an H39 on the right. The H39 seems to have a number on the turret. Though not completely clear it appears to be a 4 or 7, with a dark outline and a light interior.


The second image shows two more H39’s. They don’t show any markings, but I still find them worth to mention.


Apart from the images presented earlier, there are more reasons to think that the white-with-black-outline numbers are typical for PzAbt100. The following pictures also support this theory. PINTAN has the second shot with a caption that seems to suggest it is part of PzAbt100. Looking at the landscape and buildings, this could by Normandy (during wintertimes) indeed. The numbers can clearly be seen. (Also note that the markings don’t seem to be symmetrical, something that makes this particular vehicle even more interesting.)


One last example I’d like to look at is the following image. It shows the same collection point as were the two CharB1’s can be found. This example however shows a R35 that has the same turret numbers (except for the 3) as “522”. Looking closer at the the numbers shows the shape is identical. It’s very possible the same stencils were used for both vehicles. (Apart from this also note the FT-17 turret).


The following image is also of interest. While no numbers can be recognised on the foremost vehicle, numbers clearly can be seen on the second vehicle. It’s probably 523 (or perhaps 323).


Apart from the shots above we also have the following picture of a R35 with a man from 82AB. Again it’s interesting to see it’s showing a different type of markings. It’s clear these are very different from the vehicles in the “5th Co”.


To summarise everything:
Vehicle types:
The four tanks at La Fière bridge are two R35’s, one H38/39 and a PzIII. A little further away might be another H38/39.
At the collection point there are multiple R35’s, H38/39’s and possibly a H35.
The collection point also includes one FT-17. Probably from PzAbt100.
Other footage of a(nother?) collection point shows more H38/39’s and R35’s.
The ‘3rd’ series of pictures of a collection point shows 2 Char B1’s, more Hotchkisses, a R35, a PzIII and FT-17’s.
Apart from this there are some shots of lone R35’s

Markings:
The markings found on two Hotchkisses (“221/224” and “23?”) are black with thin white outlines.
Yet another Hotchkiss might have had the same kind of numbers or just a Balkenkreuz. Apart from that, it has a stencilled small white “4”.
The markings found on a fourth Hotchkiss (“4??”) are probably white with a black outline. The same goes for the R35 with number “522”. The PzIII also has similar style of markings. Possibly number “324”. Apart from this there are two other examples of a R35 with almost identical numbers to “522”, in this case “532” and “523”.

The questions that remain are to which unit(s) all these vehicles belonged (except for the vehicles at the bridge). It seems safe to say at least some of the vehicles in the dump(s) belonged to PzAbt100. For the American sector only PzAbt100 and PzAbt206 are candidates when it comes to French tanks. The fact that PzAbt206 (as well as 21PzDiv BTW) shouldn’t have had FT-17’s points that vehicle to PzAbt100.

Based on the fact that PzAbt206 only had two R35’s and there are already three images of R35’s with similar markings I’m pretty sure that’s the style PzAbt100 used. Combined with the PzIII, if I’ve identified it correctly, this is good evidence to proof the numbering style in my eyes.

However there remain some mysteries. In an article of from 39-45 magazine, Steve kindly looked up for me, there is a German report from 18 May 44 with the strength of PzAbt 100 as:
HQ Co= 5 x R-35
1st Pz Co.= 5 R-35 (plus two rifle platoons)
2nd Pz Co= 1st Platoon with 1 S-35+ 4x R-35; 2nd Platoon with 1 B1 bis and 4 x Hotchkiss; 3rd Plat with 1 x Pz III and 4 x Hotchkiss
3rd Pz Co= 5 R-35 and two rifle platoons.
(Though I think there should be 5 FT-17’s in it and 5 less R-35’s, but maybe it’s only a matter of interpretating the rather vague “5 short barreled 37mm french tanks” Zetterling speaks of).

Now the point is that there are R35’s with turretnumbers starting with a 5, while there are clearly only three Co’s. Looking at the composition above, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that they also numbered their tank platoons instead of just companies.
This would be of course very uncommon and it implies they considered some of their platoons to be co’s. You might want to do this for training purposes, somehow. But a major flaw in this already rather wild theory is the presence of 522, 523 and 532. This would suggest there are three platoons with at least three vehicles each. Not something you would expect from the composition. Apart from that the PzIII certainly has a strange number as well (“324”).
The last image of the R35 with a Balkenkreuz on the turret side is another problem. As I’ve no indication it belonged to PzAbt206, it would be a different marking style for PzAbt100. The only other vehicle to show a Balkenkreuz on the Turret would be 203. So maybe this is a 2nd co vehicle. This also brings back the turret with the small stencilled “4” on it. If there is indeed a Balkenkreuz on it they might be related after all. Well, There are clearly still more questions than answer, so the numbering system of PzAbt100 remains a mystery.

One last point to focus on, are the different numbering styles seen on vehicles (black-white vs white-black). Like I said I’m pretty sure on the style of PzAbt100. I therefor believe that the black numbers with the white outline belonged to PzAbt206. Another indication for this is the image from PINTAN if 203 is really from PzAbt100. The only way the “other” numbering style as found on “221”/”224” could also have belonged to PZAbt100 would be a change in number style, but only for the 2nd Co. Not something I believe in myself.

Well, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you guys. If you have any corrections, thoughts or remarks please let me know.
Grtz Niels

And as a small bonus:
An overview of the vehicle dump. Yes I know, it’s a bit “information intensive” but it’s a nice illustration of how much information can be hidden inside a single picture. And I’m not even mentioning the different tankguns and other details

Wow! I printed it all off and spent the evening reading through this in detail.

There is just one thing to correct, I believe. You tentatively identify a H35 from the position of the spare wheel. In fact this is a H39. The spare wheel and a round-cornered stowage box were mounted on the tail when it was fitted, and that accounts for the position of the wheel. The stowage box is at a slight slope, and might give the impression that we have a sloping rear deck. In fact, we can see enough of the deck to see that it is flat, with a prominent bolt, just above the guy's wrist in the photo. This is a good identifier for it not being a H35, but a H39. (I made a model of one of these tails, and wouldn't have known otherwise!)

Many thanks for the research,

Chris
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Joined: April 27th, 2005, 6:41 pm

December 6th, 2006, 10:39 am #10

Thanks guys,
It might look very time consuming, but in fact it wasn't too bad. Over the past few years I've been collecting images from the internet. And luckily I filed these correctly. That made it rather easy to compare them.
What pleases me most is that for this research I didn't need a lot of specialised books. It was all out there, on the internet. Including official reports and reports from eyewitnesses. After that it was just a matter of combing through it all and putting things together. At first I thought I would need some more information before posting it anywhere. But the last days I found some more pictures showing the type of turret numbers, and that enabled me to fill in the blanks.

@ Elliot. I must admid Barry is one of the reasons I did a post like this. When I first came here I was very impressed by the research being done here. It inspired me to do something like that one day. Unfortunately the amount of research posted here is not what it used to be anymore. Makes me miss the old days.... I guess it's up to us to raise the standard again

@ Chris. Are we talking about the same vehicle here?
I'm not talking about "224"/"221" but about the vehicle behind it (with the small 4). Like I said I'm not too familiar with all the features of these vehicles, but I would have expected to see a trench skid if it was indeed a H39. That's the only configuration I've seen of H39's having a horizontal spare wheel. AFAIK without it, the wheel would be mounted against the rear of the hull. But maybe I'm missing something here.




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