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Tiger 222 of Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 101 Towing Tiger 231

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Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf E Tiger (SdKfz 181) Turmnummer (Turret Number) 222, 2.Kompanie, 2.Zug (Platoon), Second vehicle, Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung (Heavy Tank Battalion) 101 attached to First SS Division “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler“ is shown towing Tiger 231 of the same unit back to Caen on Route Nationale 175. The officer in the long trench coat is probably SS-Unterscharfuhrer (Sergeant) Kurt Sowa, Tiger 222‘s commander. General field orders prohibited one Tiger towing another, due to the strain on the engine and transmission. Arriving at the battlefront on June 12 after a road march from Beauvais, Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 101 had endured many breakdowns and sustained air attacks. The drive from Beauvais to Villers-Bocage takes three hours today; the Battalion took five days to move to the front. The Tigers were in need of maintenance. On June 13, 1944, he commander of 2.Kompanie, SS-Obersturmfuhrer (Second Lieutenant) Michael Wittmann (April 22, 1914 – August 8, 1944) led six or seven Tigers, including Tiger 222, against the British Forces at Villers-Bocage; they were engaged in Operation Perch, an attempt to reach and capture the city of Caen. Wittmann was already a national hero for his actions on the Eastern Front. He ambushed the 22nd Armoured Brigade, Seventh Armoured Division, XXX Corps using Kurt Sowa‘s Tiger when his mount had mechanical problems. Wittmann probably did not use Tiger 222 during the battle, as is often surmised, since this photo was taken after the battle and 222 is in running order. Tiger crews often switched tanks, depending on what was in running order and what crewmen were fit for duty. Sowa could have been driving 231 at the start of the action. Within 15 minutes, Wittman‘s Tiger had destroyed 6 Cromwell tanks, 1 M4 Sherman Firefly medium tank armed with a 17-pounder 76 mm (3-inch) gun, 2 M5 “Honey“ light tanks, 1 M4 Sherman medium tank, two 6-pounder anti-tank guns and a dozen half-tracks and carriers. Additional damage, possibly some of Wittmann‘s kills, was caused by the other Tigers; but only Wittmann‘s Tiger entered the town. Wittmann‘s Tiger was knocked out by a 6-pounder 57mm (2.24 inch) anti-tank gun as he withdrew. Other attacks by Panzergrenadiers and 1.Kompanie Tigers effectively forced the Seventh Armoured to withdraw from Villers-Bocage; they were pursued the next day to Amaye-sur-Seulles, where the Seventh Armoured and other units continued to suffer heavy German counterattacks. The actions of Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 101 delayed the capture of Caen until July 1944. Tiger 231 is not listed as one of the tanks used that day by most sources; but there is evidence that Wittmann‘s Tiger may have been 231. Wittmann‘s vehicle was recovered after the battle, but most of the Battalion‘s Tigers were destroyed by the end of the Normandy Campaign. Wittmann‘s preference for single-handed attack, without infantry, may have been a factor in his death in combat on August 8, 1944, along with his entire crew. Kurt Sowa was wounded in Normandy; he lost an arm. In the Ardennes Campaign, he commanded a Tiger II turmnummer 222.
Image Filename wwii0159.jpg
Image Size 217.82 KB
Image Dimensions 700 x 444
Photographer Grimm, Arthur
Photographer Title Kriegsberichter Propaganda Kompanie Signal-Einsatz
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed June 14, 1944
Location Route Nationale 175
City Villers-Bocage
State or Province Normandy
Country France
Record Number
Status Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Please Do Not Duplicate or Distribute Without Permission

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