2nd November - Tiger Hunt at Poperinge

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2nd November - Tiger Hunt at Poperinge

Post  Moortz on Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:47 am

Many sightings of enemy tanks to the South and East of Poperinge. The city was under seige from the Axis onslaught.

Only a single Crusader III tank remained, oil stained but in fine nick, in the barracks at Hazebrouck, a good 15km drive from the beseiged front line.

As we pulled out of the garage, I heard the unmistakeable sound of a 110. He was low, under the ominous grey clouds, and he did a lazy slow banking turn right over our position.

I pulled the tank off the road, and into a bush line. Engines off, and sit still. The 110 circled two more times, before strafing the barracks I had just left and continuing on to search for his next victim.

Several voices crackled through the old tired radio headset. They all said the same thing - Tigers.

I'd heard of them, studied them, but never been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to see one up close. I knew the weak 6 lbr AP shell could do little damage to the mighty german Panzer, but inside of 500m I knew I had a chance, and the low, green and fast Cru III was my best option.

A solitary M10 was guarding the south approach as I pulled into a hedgerow and surveyed the hilly, wooded ground between my Cru and the town. There were many nooks and hollows to hide in, at once a bonus for the ambusher and at the same time giving enemy tanks a chance to slip through.

There, on the corner of the road, stood the burning hulk of a Tiger, already smashed and flaming but still easily recognisable from its massive square bulk. As I looked over this once proud and mighty beast, a movement in the bushes north of the dead tank caught my eye. Could it be another Tiger?

As I brought the gun around to bear the enemy tank (a German StuG IIIG, a formidable opponent) ripped between a group of slender trees. Range was 500 yds, well within firing parameters for a flank shot and I let rip three quick shots bap bap bap. The first one hit the front quarter, the second hit a tree and the third hit the engine block.

Brown smoke poured out of the compartment, and the StuG ground to a halt. The crew bolted, and it was time to move on before they reported my position to their superiors.

I moved on, the silence occasionaly broken by a far off shell or lone fighter engine droning overhead. I was about 1500 yds south of the road, enough to avoid a flank but too far to hit the main body of enemy tanks. I saw my first Tiger, rolling slowly through a field to my north east as if on exercise. He was a good 1200 yds from me, too far to give up my position. Flanking him on either side was two more StuG IIIG's, adn a third bringing up the rear. I radioed their positions in, and waited.

A flash to the south woke me up, and to my amazement I was staring at a burning Panzer IVG, about 800 yds away from me. He must have flanked far to the south, or came up from the jerry town a few miles further, but someone took him out before he took me out! Time to move on again, and a column of engine smoke to the east looked like a broken down 232. He was about 1200 yds away, too far to guarantee a hit and I wasted some ammo trying to flush him out of the treeline.

Finally, exasperated, I ordered a full speed firing advance him, getting within 500 yds and still firing when he exploded in front of me courtesy of a Sherman to my north somewhere. Full braking stop, as we started to take fire. A slight rise to the west looked like good cover, and I gave the tank a good spin and dived into it.

Now only 1000yds from the road, I saw to my horror an assorted column of Jerry nastiness. 3 Tigers, led by 2 IVG's, a Stug IIIG and a Pz IIIH all rolling along the road ahead of me.

I saw a likely spot a bit closer to the road, and we again charged full speed north. The enemy column had stopped and was taking fire from their front quarter, so I had a good idea I would get there without them seeing me. Just as I pulled in to a handy dip, the front Pz IV exploded with massive force. I brought the Cru up behind a sturdy tree, and crept out of the commanders cupola to look for the enemy.

There was a tiger, perfectly silhoutted on the ridge and a second behind him. 800 yds, and at an angle too. Too far. Damn! I had heard that repeated shots to the barrel can cause a Tiger to rupture the gun and be incapable of firing, and also that sometimes the weak spot at the rear can be punctured, so I opened up with AP.

At first, the Tiger shrugged off the hits and carried on firing to his front. Then, suddenly the panzer lurched and started spewing brown smoke. I continued peppering him with rounds to the turret, and he stopped firing.

There was no time to rejoice, as a second Tiger came rushing through the bushes between my Cru III and the Tiger I had just hit. 500 yds, moving target... one shot exploded the Tiger and his turret flew off into the air. A second tank came steaming in, this time the Pz IIIH. My first shot disabled his engine, and the second took out his ammo store in an almighty blast.

At this point, the first Tiger rotated its turret towards me and started firing. Bastard! I managed a few more rounds at him, and he fell silent again. I only had 2 rounds left, and cresting the hill to my east was another Tiger and a IVG. My first round bounced harmlessly off the Tiger, and my final AP round I aimed a tracking shot at the approaching IVG but it went high.

Still taking fire from somewhere, I backed the Cru out of the ditch I was in, and headed into the town for a well deserved brew and some more ammo. Unfortunately Jerry had infiltrated the army base, so we had to hot foot it out back to Haz without even a ginger biscuit...



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