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Canadian Sherman Tanks, Italy 1944

Canadian Sherman Tanks, Italy 1944



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Canadian Sherman Tanks, Italy 1944

Here we see a large line of Canadian Sherman tanks being prepared for battle, probably somewhere in Italy in the summer of 1944.


Canadian Sherman Tanks, Italy 1944 - History

I should also note that very good, full-color instructions are also included with this set, which again, is not always the case with earlier sets from this company. It would be wonderful if Peddinghaus would use this printer for all of their new print runs, including reprints of older decals, as I have always enjoyed the subject matter of this company's products, if not always their print quality.

I will note one complication in these markings, however. By April 1944, all Allied tanks in Italy used a white star with circle around it for air recognition markings on the turret roof, not the RAF-style roundels that are included here (though the change over probably started earlier). So check your references carefully for the specific vehicles below to determine if they should have the star, or the roundel (or neither). My references have not been very helpful.

<<Click on image for larger view>>

Markings for the following Shermans are included in this set (notice that "Vancover" is misspelled):


Laststandonzombieisland

Today the Canadian Army rocks some gently used (mainly former Dutch Army) Leopard 2A4+/2A4M/2A6M main battle tanks but their armored tradition goes way back. In the 1930s, the branch trained with early US M1917 tanks and Vickers MKVI light tanks than by 1941 was using MkIV Churchills.

In World War II, Canada actually rolled their own tanks, producing 1420 locally-built Valentines at the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Angus Shop in Montreal. While most of the V’s went to the Soviet Union for use on the Eastern Front, the Montreal Locomotive Works built a modified version of the M3 Lee medium tank as the Ram to equip Canuck units in Northern Africa early in the war.

In 1943, MLW switched from the Lee/Ram to the Sherman (called “Grizzly” in Canadian service), which included British radio gear, a 2-inch smoke mortar mounted on the turret, and a cast hull as opposed to the more common welded-hull version.

The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was equipped with Grizzlies in time for the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

In all, MLW made 188 Canuck Grizzlies while others were acquired from allies.

The novice Canadian Armored Corps in Italy caught hell from both the terrain and German PzKpfw IV’s when 36 Shermans from the Three Rivers Regiment (Tank), CASF (now the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada) took on the brunt of the veteran German 16th Panzer Corps near Termoli in one of the most epic armored engagements of Canadian military history.

Tank Crew Italy 1944 with their Sherman M4 Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) plates done for Straths by R. Marriou in the mid-1970s

Canadian Armour (M4 Sherman) Passing Through Ortona, by Dr. Charles Comfort. Canadian War Museum (CN 12245).

The 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, training in Britain for Operation Overlord, had their Ram tanks swapped out with the new tank just before D-Day.

Maj Gen. Bert Hoffmeister, 36, commander of the Canadian 5th Armoured Division, in front of his M4 Sherman command tank, “Vancouver” May 1944. MIKAN ID number 4233102

They also caught hell in Northwestern Europe.

M4A2(75) Sherman 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment Vaucelles, France June, 1944 Kodachrome LAC

A rare color chrome of a Sherman V of the Canadian 29th Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment). The Tank was commanded by Major David Currie (VC), and the tank was named ‘Clanky’. This photo was taken in Normandy around Arromanches in July of 1944. Photo via TheShermanTank.com

A pair of burnt-out Canadian M4A2 Shermans of the 10th Armored Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) at the foot of the church at Rots – June 1944

Color photo of a Canadian Sherman Firefly tank in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 1945, assigned to the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD)

Some Grizzlies were converted into the Skink anti-aircraft tank with a turret mounting four 20 mm Polsten guns– a very effective anti-personnel and AAA platform.

“Tank AA, 20 mm Quad,” better known as the Skink was a Canadian self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, developed in 1943-44 fully enclosed mounting on the chassis of the Grizzly Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman

Other variants included the Badger flame tank and Kangaroo APC, both made from Sherman hulls.

When Hitler was vanquished, the Canadians left their Grizzlies/Shermans in Europe while in 1946 they picked up 294 “Easy Eight” M4A2(76)W HVSS Shermans cheap– just $1,460 each (Late model Shermans cost $200,000 to make in 1945). They were leftovers from Lend Lease production meant for Uncle Joe in Moscow but by that stage of the 1940s, the U.S. would rather sell them at scrap prices than give them to the Soviets.

The batch of M4A2(76)W’s (M4A3E8’s) were kept in Canada proper for training purposes, even though they were different from the Shermans forward deployed along the Rhine.

When Korea came, the Canadians borrowed 20 Shermans from the U.S. Army and Marines in-country and, after using them in often very heavy combat and tense DMZ patrol from 1951 to November 1954, returned all 20 back to the U.S.

Trooper Andy Parenteau of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) sleeps on the back of a Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank, Korea. Note the American ration box and United Nations/Canada crest on the tail

1952- Canadian Sherman tanks of ‘B’ Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, completing a tour of front-line duty in Korea, 16 July. Note name “Catherine” on the lead tank

British forces used Centurions in the conflict– speaking of which…

In 1952, the Canadian Army bought the first of what would be 274 Centurion Mk 3 Tanks and split these MBTs between the active units in Germany (with their Grizzles being passed on to Portugal) and at home, later adding 120 Mk 5’s to the arsenal– while transferring the Easy Eight Shermans to reserve units.

They remained in service until 1978 when Canada replaced their aging Centurions with 127 new German-built Leopard C1 (equivalent to Leopard 1A3 with laser rangefinder) MBTs and, as the buy was limited and 114 were based in West Germany, just a handful were sent home to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick for training.

The days of large tank lots in Canada had come to an end.

This led to the retirement of the last Canadian reserve force Shermans in the 1970s, one of the last Western countries to do so.

Canadian Easy Eight Shermans in reserve units 1970s out for a Sunday drive

You have to admit, the camo scheme looks good on these tanks…and they were an instant WWII veterans parade every time they left the armory

After retirement, many Canadian Shermans remained in use well into the 1980s– as targets and gate guards.

The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) is a Primary Reserve armored reconnaissance (recce) regiment of the Canadian Forces that still has a vintage Sherman M4 as a gate guard

Ex-Canadian M4 Sherman used for target practice with anti-tank weapons, 1986

It should be noted that as late as 1989, the Finning Tank Drill, a rock drill used in logging road construction, was produced in British Columbia from Sherman hulls while BC’s Morpac Industries, Inc., still produces heavy-duty, off-road load crawlers based on Sherman components. It is very likely these civilian mods will be in the wilds of Canada’s western forests for decades to come.

Here is a Finning caught in its natural state:

intact models are thought to still exist in the country as gate guards and museum pieces and they pop up from time to time in both their Grizzly and later Easy Eight variants for sale at reasonable prices.

The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum in Oshawa, Ontario has a pair of great working Shermans, (“Bart” #78-904 and “Billy #78-856).


Laststandonzombieisland

Today the Canadian Army rocks some gently used (mainly former Dutch Army) Leopard 2A4+/2A4M/2A6M main battle tanks but their armored tradition goes way back. In the 1930s, the branch trained with early US M1917 tanks and Vickers MKVI light tanks than by 1941 was using MkIV Churchills.

In World War II, Canada actually rolled their own tanks, producing 1420 locally-built Valentines at the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Angus Shop in Montreal. While most of the V’s went to the Soviet Union for use on the Eastern Front, the Montreal Locomotive Works built a modified version of the M3 Lee medium tank as the Ram to equip Canuck units in Northern Africa early in the war.

In 1943, MLW switched from the Lee/Ram to the Sherman (called “Grizzly” in Canadian service), which included British radio gear, a 2-inch smoke mortar mounted on the turret, and a cast hull as opposed to the more common welded-hull version.

The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was equipped with Grizzlies in time for the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

In all, MLW made 188 Canuck Grizzlies while others were acquired from allies.

The novice Canadian Armored Corps in Italy caught hell from both the terrain and German PzKpfw IV’s when 36 Shermans from the Three Rivers Regiment (Tank), CASF (now the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada) took on the brunt of the veteran German 16th Panzer Corps near Termoli in one of the most epic armored engagements of Canadian military history.

Tank Crew Italy 1944 with their Sherman M4 Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) plates done for Straths by R. Marriou in the mid-1970s

Canadian Armour (M4 Sherman) Passing Through Ortona, by Dr. Charles Comfort. Canadian War Museum (CN 12245).

The 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, training in Britain for Operation Overlord, had their Ram tanks swapped out with the new tank just before D-Day.

Maj Gen. Bert Hoffmeister, 36, commander of the Canadian 5th Armoured Division, in front of his M4 Sherman command tank, “Vancouver” May 1944. MIKAN ID number 4233102

They also caught hell in Northwestern Europe.

M4A2(75) Sherman 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment Vaucelles, France June, 1944 Kodachrome LAC

A rare color chrome of a Sherman V of the Canadian 29th Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment). The Tank was commanded by Major David Currie (VC), and the tank was named ‘Clanky’. This photo was taken in Normandy around Arromanches in July of 1944. Photo via TheShermanTank.com

A pair of burnt-out Canadian M4A2 Shermans of the 10th Armored Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) at the foot of the church at Rots – June 1944

Color photo of a Canadian Sherman Firefly tank in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 1945, assigned to the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD)

Some Grizzlies were converted into the Skink anti-aircraft tank with a turret mounting four 20 mm Polsten guns– a very effective anti-personnel and AAA platform.

“Tank AA, 20 mm Quad,” better known as the Skink was a Canadian self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, developed in 1943-44 fully enclosed mounting on the chassis of the Grizzly Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman

Other variants included the Badger flame tank and Kangaroo APC, both made from Sherman hulls.

When Hitler was vanquished, the Canadians left their Grizzlies/Shermans in Europe while in 1946 they picked up 294 “Easy Eight” M4A2(76)W HVSS Shermans cheap– just $1,460 each (Late model Shermans cost $200,000 to make in 1945). They were leftovers from Lend Lease production meant for Uncle Joe in Moscow but by that stage of the 1940s, the U.S. would rather sell them at scrap prices than give them to the Soviets.

The batch of M4A2(76)W’s (M4A3E8’s) were kept in Canada proper for training purposes, even though they were different from the Shermans forward deployed along the Rhine.

When Korea came, the Canadians borrowed 20 Shermans from the U.S. Army and Marines in-country and, after using them in often very heavy combat and tense DMZ patrol from 1951 to November 1954, returned all 20 back to the U.S.

Trooper Andy Parenteau of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) sleeps on the back of a Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank, Korea. Note the American ration box and United Nations/Canada crest on the tail

1952- Canadian Sherman tanks of ‘B’ Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, completing a tour of front-line duty in Korea, 16 July. Note name “Catherine” on the lead tank

British forces used Centurions in the conflict– speaking of which…

In 1952, the Canadian Army bought the first of what would be 274 Centurion Mk 3 Tanks and split these MBTs between the active units in Germany (with their Grizzles being passed on to Portugal) and at home, later adding 120 Mk 5’s to the arsenal– while transferring the Easy Eight Shermans to reserve units.

They remained in service until 1978 when Canada replaced their aging Centurions with 127 new German-built Leopard C1 (equivalent to Leopard 1A3 with laser rangefinder) MBTs and, as the buy was limited and 114 were based in West Germany, just a handful were sent home to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick for training.

The days of large tank lots in Canada had come to an end.

This led to the retirement of the last Canadian reserve force Shermans in the 1970s, one of the last Western countries to do so.

Canadian Easy Eight Shermans in reserve units 1970s out for a Sunday drive

You have to admit, the camo scheme looks good on these tanks…and they were an instant WWII veterans parade every time they left the armory

After retirement, many Canadian Shermans remained in use well into the 1980s– as targets and gate guards.

The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) is a Primary Reserve armored reconnaissance (recce) regiment of the Canadian Forces that still has a vintage Sherman M4 as a gate guard

Ex-Canadian M4 Sherman used for target practice with anti-tank weapons, 1986

It should be noted that as late as 1989, the Finning Tank Drill, a rock drill used in logging road construction, was produced in British Columbia from Sherman hulls while BC’s Morpac Industries, Inc., still produces heavy-duty, off-road load crawlers based on Sherman components. It is very likely these civilian mods will be in the wilds of Canada’s western forests for decades to come.

Here is a Finning caught in its natural state:

intact models are thought to still exist in the country as gate guards and museum pieces and they pop up from time to time in both their Grizzly and later Easy Eight variants for sale at reasonable prices.

The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum in Oshawa, Ontario has a pair of great working Shermans, (“Bart” #78-904 and “Billy #78-856).


Post # 68 The Chieftain’s Hatch does the M4A1, we review it.

The video comes in two parts.

The subject of the video is Black Magic, a small hatch, late production M4A1 if the turret came on it, though the turret or gun mount could be from other tanks. When it comes to restored Sherman tanks, I think being concerned about matching numbers is not a thing that seems to be worried about, and since it was so well designed and built, parts readily interchange. This sherman started life as a canadian Grizzly, basically totally the same as an M4A1 with an extra small hatch in the hull floor.

This tank has almost all the quick fix upgrades, the extra armor over the hull ammo boxes but lacks the cheek armor on the turret, and the turret may, I can’t tell for sure, have the cast in cheek armor, meaning it almost for sure didn’t come on the hull. It also lacks the armor plates added in front of the driver and co drivers positions, that the Chieftain calls “sheet metal”. It also has some late Sherman stuff, either added by the restorers, or by a depot rebuild later in the tanks life. The spot light, and ‘gun crutch’, or travel lock as normal people use were not on most small hatch shermans. Also the all around vision cupola would not be found on these tanks during WWII.

The Tom Jentz tangent.

The Idea that the Sherman was no more reliable than any other tank, well, I don’t buy it. I like Mr Jentz’s work, and to some degree, his books helped inspire this site, since there was so little info on the web with really detailed info on the Sherman other than the Sherman Minutia site. I don’t think he really knows much about the Sherman if he thinks tanks like Panther and Tiger just needed more spare parts to be as reliable as the Sherman, it is a ridiculous idea. I do not think there was a single part on the Sherman that had a 500 kilometer life span, and that’s double the Panthers final drives.

First: The Chieftain himself has done Hatch posts on reports from the British, about how much more reliable, the M4A4 Sherman was than the Cromwell, even when both had full crews working to keep them running. both tanks were run thousands of miles, something late war German tanks could not do.

Second: In one of his own Hatches talks about the French experience with the mighty panther showed they averaged 150 kilometers per final drive set! Much less if the crew was hard on them. There was no major automotive component including the oil, that had to be changed every 150 kilometers on any model of Sherman.

Third: This will focus on the Panther, since it was a major part of Germany’s late war armored force, and how terrible it was. This tank didn’t have just one flaw that should have disqualified it for production it had at least five. It was generally poorly reliable across all its automotive components, along with the final drive, 2500 kilometers for the motor and 1500 for the tranny were hugely optimistic and most of these tanks broke down and or were destroyed before they had to refuel. You had to take the whole drivers and co drivers compartment apart and the top of the hull off to change a transmission! Don’t get me started on the weak turret drive system that Rube Goldberg would have loved. The ‘wonderful’ dual torsion bar suspension and interleaved road wheels would cause any maintenance nazi to find the nearest US Line and surrender instead of working on it!

Another thing to note, you can see the holes drilled vertically in the suspension bogies, these are the tops of the holes the bolts that hold the suspension caps on go into. They were covered up with body filler by the factory, but on most restored and old Shermans the filler is gone, and they don’t fill the holes.

Note: the odd groove in the center of the rear Hull casting, this wasn’t done on all M4A1 tanks, and may have been unique to General Steel castings.

On the problems with the R975, I have not heard of complaints about the engine being easy to blow, and would be very surprised if the throttle wasn’t governed to prevent it. On having to crank the engine before starting, I have it on good authority, that the crew could just start the tank and run it for a few minutes every 45 minutes to an hour to avoid having to hand crank the motor.

Many of units removed the sand shields in ETO to prevent problems with mud.

The Commanders vane site is an early version bolted to a late war vane site pad. The tank has the early style gunner’s periscope. The gunners periscope is missing the linkage going down to the gun. The radio looks like a 528. Note the Armored doors on all the ammo boxes and ready rack. The tank is missing a lot of interior storage, it may have been removed in preparation on shipping the tank out to it’s new owners.

I‘m no expert, but I think the Chieftain confused a .30 cal ammo bin for the 75mm ammo bin right next to his shoulder for the location of an SCR-506, I just can’t see a WWII radio fitting in the tiny box! You can see how sparsely filled the interior is, as issued the tank would be stuffed full of items to help fight it, live with it, or keep it running. The Chieftain shows just how easy even a small hatch Sherman was to get out of, the the Loader was still going to have some issues though. I wish he would have tried the belly hatch out, but maybe it’s welded shut or something.

He covers the small floor hatch on the Grizzly tanks, and you get a nice shot of the early escape hatch. They also show the generator mounted on the rear of the transmission in one of the shots, briefly. You can also see the full turret basket’s mesh screening that separated the turret crew from the hull crew. Part of the quick fix was to cut this all out. I suspect most of the inconsistencies in the tanks details are due to the restoration crew using the Sherman parts they could get their hands on. Very few people would even notice or know it had the wrong commanders hatch, or even whole turret.

A note on the tank, it belonged to a the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, a fancy name for the collection of a man named Jacques Littlefield. He had a passion for armored vehicles of all types but really liked tanks. He restored many to full functionality, including working main guns and machine guns on some tanks. Owning a working tank cannon is easier than you would think, and far easier than getting the paperwork approved to own machine guns in California, and Jacques Littlefield did both. He employed a restoration crew with world class skills and did some amazing restorations, including a Panther A that was impossibly damaged, but still brought back to life. That Panther was his crowning achievement, and he was a real mover and shaker in the international military vehicle restoration scene, seeing that tank run was one of the last things he achieved, because cancer claimed him shortly after.

The MVTF was supposed to make sure the collection of vehicles, that were a labor of love his whole life, lived on when he passed. Unfortunately the location of the MVTF, Portola California, on a large chunk of very private property, with very limited parking really presented some problem. The collection was used often while it was there, by TV productions like Myth Busters, and was a staple for the Wargaming Staff for their productions, and occasionally opened up to groups of vets, or other interested people. There were other difficulties with the location, and ultimately the collection was donated to the Collings Foundation. They reportedly decided to keep 40 of the most significant vehicles and auction the rest off. The money from the auction was going to be used to build a facility in Stowe Massachusetts, but due to zoning issues, the permits were not provided, leaving the vehicles they did keep in limbo.

I‘m sure the Collings Foundation, a really amazing Charity, they keep many rare WWII aircraft, and cars, including race cars running, has a plan for the rest of the tanks. Their website only lists the Panther in their collection, I hope that doesn’t mean they sold the rest when the museum fell through. That’s not a criticism of the CF, they I’m sure know their business far better than I do, and they really are a top notch group of people. Just browse that site to see the airplanes they’ve gotten flying. The only real B-24 liberator and a working F-4 Phantom are just two of the notable planes!! If you know anything about aviation, you know just how complicated and expensive keeping an aircraft like a Phantom flying is, especially if you don’t have the resources of the U.S. Navy or Air Force backing you.

I have to say, this is one of the best Chieftain’s hatches they have done. Granted, I’m a tad biased, since it was on the Sherman, well a Grizzly made into a later model small hatch Sherman anyway, and the Chieftain really has gotten pretty good with the Sherman and its sub variants, and even has a book on US WWII TDs on the way.


Here are 14 ship names the US Navy needs to bring back to the fleet

Posted On February 18, 2021 09:41:00

Ship names were a controversy of sorts during the Obama Administration. (The USS Carl Levin and USS Joe Murtha come to mind.) It’s time to make the Navy great by christening combatants with proper names, ones that reflect the heritage and tradition of the sea service.

Here are 14 recommendations:

1. USS Lexington

Last of her name: AVT 16/CV 16

The last Lexington served as a training carrier for decades before her 1991 retirement, having replaced CV 2, which was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The “Lady Lex” is now a museum docked on the shores of Corpus Christie, Texas. This classic name is way overdue for a comeback.

2. USS Saratoga

If “Lady Lex” is coming back, why not “Sister Sara”? The previous one served for decades and was in reserve until the premature decision to send her to Brownsville to become razor blades. CV 60’s predecessor survived World War II, only to be sunk during the tests at Bikini Atoll.

3. USS Yorktown

While the last Yorktown was a guided missile cruiser, the two previous ones were legendary “Fighting Ladies” in World War II. CV 5 sank at the Battle of Midway, but not before her fliers sank Soryu and helped put Hiryu on the bottom. CV 10 replaced CV 5, and made it through the war and is now a museum docked in Charleston, S.C. The cruiser served from 1984 to 2004, and is still in reserve.

4. USS Hornet

The two carriers named Hornet in World War II both had honorable careers. CV 8 carried the Doolittle raiders on their mission to bomb Tokyo. CV 12 — now a museum docked in Alameda, California — fought across the Pacific, and later was the ship that recovered the crew of Apollo 11 after the historic moon landing.

5. USS England

The first USS England, a destroyer escort, was famous for sinking six Japanese submarines in two weeks, a performance that lead then-Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J, King to vow “There will always be an England in the United States Navy.” The last one was decommissioned in 1994. It is well past time for England to return.

6. USS Basilone

While HBO’s miniseries The Pacific brought the heroism of John Basilone to the world’s attention, the Navy had honored the Marine gunnery sergeant with a destroyer that was sunk as a target in 1982.

Crewmen abandon ship on board the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) after the carrier was hit by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the Battle of the Coral Sea, on 8 May 1942. (Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation) />USS Basilone in action in 1960. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

7. USS Laffey

Both destroyers named Laffey served in World War II, and both became legends in fights against long odds. The last one was decommissioned in 1968, then became a museum. It is well past time for a new Laffey to sail the seas.

8. USS Callaghan

Daniel J. Callaghan is one of the least-known combat commanders in the Navy. Given that his force saved the Marines on Guadalcanal, that is an undeserved situation. Perhaps it is time for a new Callaghan.

9. USS Jesse L. Brown

The Navy recently named a Burke-class destroyer after Ensign Brown’s wingman, so it seems fitting for a new Jesse L. Brown to join the Thomas Hudner as a named warship.

10. USS Johnston

The first USS Johnston was one of two destroyers from Taffy 3 lost during the Battle of Samar. A second USS Johnston served in the United States Navy from 1946 until she was sold to Taiwan in 1981, where she gave two more decades of service.

11. USS Tang

The first USS Tang was a legendary and very lethal submarine from World War II that sunk after getting hit with one of her own torpedoes in 1943. A second Tang later served in the Cold War. Time for iconic skipper Richard O’Kane’s sub to prowl the oceans again.

USS Tang returning to port after her second patrol. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

12. USS Harder

Harder was another famous submarine from World War II, which carried out six successful war patrols before being lost. Her replacement, decommissioned in 1974, was sold to Italy, and served until 1988.

13. USS Wahoo

Famous as the command of “Mush” Morton, Wahoo carried out seven patrols before Japanese forces sank her on her way back to base. Her replacement, part of the Tang-class diesel-electric subs that served in the early Cold War, was decommissioned in 1980 and scrapped in 1984.

14. USS Growler

The fame of the third USS Growler (SS 215) came because of the noble sacrifice of Commander Howard C. Gilmore, who famously ordered, “Take her down!” After World War II, a new Growler briefly served as a cruise-missile sub before being decommissioned and becoming a museum.

Are there other names you’d like to see the Navy bring back? Tell us in the comments below or on the WATM Facebook page.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Canadian Sherman Tanks, Italy 1944 - History

Sherman IIa (M4A1 76mm) began arriving with Commonwealth units in Italy during July 1944. Sherman Ib (M4 105mm) began arriving at around the same time. They first went to the 1st Armoured Division and by the Autumn had also been received by 6th and 6th South African Armoured Divisions, but not by Canadian 5th Armoured Division.

By the end of 1944, the 2nd Armoured Brigade (which had been split off as an independent armoured brigade when the 1st Armoured Division was disbanded) was pretty-much 100% Sherman IIa, with the 6th South African Armoured Division having a ratio of approx. 2:1 76mm to 75mm and the 6th Armoured Division having a roughly equal split. The independent 7th Armoured Brigade had also received enough to have at least one in every Troop.

In the Spring of 1945 the ratios changed slightly, with 2nd Armoured Brigade losing some 76mm tanks to make way for Firefly (2x 76mm & 1x Firefly per Troop) and 6th South African Armoured Division having almost 100% 76mm. The 6th Armoured Division still had around 50% 76mm, though had received a small number of Firefly (enough for roughly 2 Fireflies per squadron) – the remainder were mostly still 75mm.

The 1st Canadian, 5th Canadian, 2nd New Zealand, 2nd Polish and British 9th Armoured Brigades do not appear to have received any 76mm tanks.

Sherman 1b (M4 105mm) in Italy:

Starting again with 1st Armoured Division (2nd Armoured Brigade) in July 1944, each Sherman-equipped Armoured Squadron received a pair of these, replacing two tanks of the Squadron HQ. 6th and 6th South African Armoured Divisions also received them during the Autumn and every other Armoured Brigade received them during the Winter, except for 2nd Polish Armoured Brigade. The Poles got their 105mm tanks during the Spring of 1945. The 1st and 5th Canadian Armoured Brigades took theirs with them to NW Europe during the Winter and were then the only Commonwealth units to have Sherman Ib in 21st Army Group.

Firefly began arriving in October 1944, going first to the 1st and 5th Canadian Armoured Brigades, which hadn’t received any 76mm tanks. During early 1945, 6th Armoured Division also got a few (as mentioned above), giving it enough for roughly 1 or 2 Fireflies per Squadron. Sources disagree re 6th South African Armoured Division – they either got none at all, or a very small number indeed (the Army Group strength returns say none, but there are photos labelled as 6th SA Armd Div and the South African Armour Museum has a Firefly which was purportedly retired from the 6th Armd Div). All other Armoured Brigades got a good helping of Firefly at this time, with enough for 1 Firefly per Troop of three tanks (no units in Italy appear to have used the four-tank Troop structure). 7th Armoured Brigade even had a fruity mix of 75mm, 76mm and Firefly in every Troop, plus a couple of 105mm in the Squadron HQ!

The majority (possibly all?) of Fireflies in Italy were of the Mk Ic Hybrid type rather than the Mk Vc.


Sherman tanks storm through Sicily

Jack Wallace, a 23-year-old Sherman tank commander with the Three Rivers Regiment, arrived in Sicily in the heat of summer 77 years ago, he recalled in Shermans in Sicily: The Diary of a Young Soldier, Summer 1943.

Aboard ship for Reveille before 6 a.m. July 10, by 5 p.m. his regiment was ordered to join the attack on Burgio, says the diary, reproduced in Canadian Military History in 1998.

In the next two days, they rolled through three towns that were taken or surrendered. Things were about to heat up.

July 13-15, 1943

“Monty [Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery] came to inspect our regiment… Recalling that the Edmonton Regiment had been stationed in an old brewery in England, he asked the men if they would like a beer. They answered with a deafening “Yes!” but Monty responded quietly with, “In due time.”

July 16-17, 1943

“At 8 p.m., we were ordered to push north with the Edmonton Regiment into Ragusa. I was perched on top of the turret with a platoon commander when a burst of machine-gun fire whistled across in front of us as we entered town.” His gunner destroyed the house whence it came, “but not before two of our infantrymen had been killed and six others wounded. At 3 a.m., we reached Chiarmonte, pushing on through the night to the road junction at Licodia.

July 18, 1943

“Our orders were to contact the main force of Canadian troops on our right in the area around Grammichele…we could see smoke rising from the town…The roads were jammed with Canadian artillery and transport moving toward Caltagirone. The town had taken an awful blasting from our bombers and artillery. There were dead horses disembowelled on the side of the road creating an unbearable stench. Before reaching San Michele, we crossed a time-bombed bridge which blew up only minutes after our last tank made it over.”

July 19-21, 1943

“We shelled a sandpit where the Germans were supposed to have a mortar dug in… but all our gunners hit it with their first shots. We advanced further and encountered a platoon of infantry from the RCR [Royal Canadian Regiment] held up by enemy machine-gun fire. Our squadron knocked out three machine-gun emplacements before being called back to prepare for another attack.”

July 22-23, 1943

“I put on my tin helmet for the first time since we were getting some sporadic shelling. We crossed some railway tracks but hadn’t gone 20 yards [18 metres] when a mortar shell landed directly in front of us. From a standing position the concussion threw me onto the tank’s floor. My helmet was knocked off and blood trickled from a gash in my forehead. The mortar shell ripped a hole in my helmet two inches long and an inch wide.” An oily gun-cleaning rag was used to stop the bleeding.

“We’d moved only 20 yards further when another terrific blast lifted the front end of the tank off the ground. I thought we’d received a direct shell hit on the tracks, but actually we’d run into a minefield.”

Despite these injuries, Wallace’s tank made it through the invasion of Sicily.

But on Oct. 7 his tank was destroyed stopping a German counterattack at Termoli, on Italy’s Adriatic coast. He was the only crew member to survive, though so severely wounded he spent six months in hospital before being sent home to Canada. He was awarded the Military Cross.


Canada in the Second World War

Sherman tank in Sicily, 3 August 1943.
Photo by Dwight E. Dolan. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-136670.

Selected as the Western Allies’ standard battle tank in the summer of 1943, the Sherman had been designed in the United States and was produced from February 1942 in several variations. In Canadian armoured formations, it replaced the Canadian-built Ram tank. The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was equipped with Shermans in time for the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. These tanks were armed with the standard 75-mm gun, although some also mounted a 105 mm howitzer. The 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, training in Britain for Operation Overlord, had their Canadian-built Ram tanks replaced with Shermans in the months leading up to D-Day. Special “duplex-drive” (DD) tanks had been developed for the assault landing. This model featured a collapsible canvas screen which inflated around the hull of the tank, displacing enough water to allow it to float. Two propellers were fitted at the rear of the tank for use in water once on land, it used its tracks for propulsion. The four squadrons of 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade assigned to support the 3rd Division’s landings on Juno Beach-“B” and “C” Squadrons of The Fort Garry Horse and “A” and “B” Squadrons of The First Hussars-“swam” ashore in DD tanks on June 6th, 1944. Other “Funnies” had also been developed for the invasion, including the Sherman “Crab”, a mine-clearing tank equipped with a large flail.

Sherman flail tank near Thaon, France, 6 August 1944. Mines are exploded as chains attached to a rotating drum hit the ground.
Photo: by Ken Bell. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-131366.

As the Battle of Normandy developed, it became obvious that the Sherman was seriously outgunned and inadequately armoured compared to the German Panther and Tiger tanks. The range of the 88-mm gun mounted in the latter, for example, was on average four times greater than the Sherman’s 75-mm. To compound the problem, the Sherman’s high profile silhouette made it a more visible target. A match for the powerful German tank guns was found with the conversion of British and Canadian Shermans to mount the 17-pounder, but it could not fire high explosive (HE) rounds and only about 25% of tanks were thus equipped during the Battle of Normandy. The US Army developed a 76.2-mm gun, but it proved inadequate. Such technological disadvantages had unfortunate consequences in battle.
The Sherman’s saving grace was the fact that it was more mechanically reliable than its German counterparts, thus requiring less down-time for maintenance. If it could avoid being hit, it was thus able to spend more time in the field than the vastly outnumbered German tanks. Allied numerical superiority became a decisive factor as the campaign wore on: while the Germans were unable to replace their losses, the Allies had no such difficulty.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War fell victim to anti-tank mines and projectiles fired from anti-tank guns. Aside from striking crew members, the projectile would frequently ignite the fuel and ammunition carried inside the tank…What happens to a tank when hit?

Sherman V (M4A4)
Crew 5 (commander, gunner, loader/wireless operator, driver, co-driver/machine-gunner)
Dimensions Length 6.06 m
Height 2.74 m
Width 2.62 m
Weight 31,600 kg
Armour Hull front: 50 mm sides: 38 mm rear: 38 mm
Turret front: 75 mm sides: 50 mm rear: 50 mm
Armament one 75-mm gun (97 rounds AP, HE, and smoke ammunition)
two .30-calibre Browning machine guns, one mounted in the bow for the co-driver, the other mounted co-axially in the turret beside the main armament (4750 rounds)
.50-calibre anti-aircraft gun could be mounted on top of the turret
Engine Chrysler A57 multibank 30-cylinder gasoline engine, essentially five 6-cylinder engines working together, 425 horsepower at 2850 rpm. Other variants had diesel engines.
Range 160 km
Maximum Speed 40 kph

What Happens When a Tank is Hit?

Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War fell victim to anti-tank mines and projectiles fired from anti-tank guns. Most of the latter relied upon kinetic energy to penetrate a tank’s armour. As such, the velocity of the shot was of crucial importance and methods were evolved throughout the war to raise a projectile’s muzzle velocity, some by modifying the projectile, some by modifying the gun. When a tank was hit by any of the variety of armour-piercing rounds, much of the kinetic energy of the shot would be converted to heat upon penetration, raising the internal temperature of the tank. Aside from striking crew members, the projectile would frequently ignite the fuel and ammunition carried inside the tank, causing it to catch fire, or “brew up”. Historian Donald Graves states that crew members had, on average, about 15 seconds to get out once hit. The destruction of their tank did not remove them from battle, however, as it was “common practice on both sides to fire at tank crews who evacuated shot-up vehicles” (Donald E. Graves, South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War, 1998, p. 104).

Larger tanks with heavier armour led to more powerful anti-tank guns, as well as the development of a new type of projectile. Instead of kinetic energy resulting from high velocity, shaped- or hollow-charge projectiles relied on explosive chemical energy. When such a projectile struck, “a fuse detonated explosive at the end remote from the shaped cavity at the front of the round and . . . created a jet of molten metal that would penetrate armour plate and spray a mass of flame and melted metal fragments into the interior of a tank. Hollow charge projectiles were ideal for low-velocity, hand-held anti-tank weapons” such as the British PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank), the American bazooka, and the German Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck (Graves, p. 365).


Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944 By Ben Kite (Helion & Company 2014, ISBN 978 1 909982 55 0, 467pp, illustrations, colour maps, £29.95) The story of British and Commonwealth troops in the Normandy campaign is often overshadowed by the American contribution often due to the way the conflict was written about…

In October 1944 the Canadian forces in North Belgium crossed the Dutch border during Operation Switchback and landed on the Dutch coast. The objective was Antwerp and in an effort to secure the approaches the village of Woensdrecht was attacked by infantry from the 2nd Canadian Division, supported by tanks from the Fort Garry Horse….


Watch the video: 1944: The Canadian Armored Corps War For Italy. Greatest Tank Battles. Timeline (August 2022).