Monday, 3 November 2014

Bolt Action - British 'Rhomboid' Tanks in Berlin '45

This is a colourised photo of the Berlin Cathedral taken from the Lustgarten after the Battle of Berlin in 1945. The cathedral was burnt out in May '44.

Have a good look at the destroyed tanks.

Here's another photo.
The tank seems to have been destroyed while running, judging by the tracks.


So what are we looking at? On the face of it the Germans seem to have got two British WWI heavy tanks, maybe MkIVs or Vs, running as part of the last ditch defence of Berlin.

Which also raises the issue of where they got them from:

The British in WWI? The Germans certain used captured British tanks both in the war and in Berlin afterwards to restore order.

The Red Army captured British tanks from the White Russians after the British pull out and some could have been captured by the German Army or Freikorps in the battles around Riga after the war.


Another possibility is that they were captured by the Germans on the Leningrad front in '41, from a Museum, or even from the Red Army. The Soviets were using all sorts of obsolete gear.

Wherever they came from, these two British heavy tanks are a wonderful invitation for a bit of creative modelling and wargaming. I feel a scenario coming on.

20 comments:

  1. The deeper you study the war the more weird things you find.

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    1. Yes, and the Eastern Front was such a titanic conflict that almost anything could happen.

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  2. I've heard of these being used, but never seen any pics. But what a fantastic scenario it would make, especially with your Charlemagne chaps John. IIRC in the defence of Budapest (or somewhere similar in '45) the Germans had a Matilda II. Again, something different that just begs to be gamed at skirmish/platoon level.

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    1. There's a great Russian website that shows pics of German usage of Allied and Italian equipment - like British cruiser tanks on the Eastern Front in German hands in '41. The Germans also used captured Valentines.

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  3. I haven't seen such detailed shots before, it's a fascinating subject. Hadn't considered that they may have been captured from the Soviets. Thanks for posting.

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    1. At one stage, Matt, the Soviets had quite a collection of British Mk Vs and Renault FTs acquired from the White Russian armies. Stalingrad was actually captured by a British tank attack at one time and the RAF got within bombing range of Moscow before it was all called off.

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  4. That is interesting. Worth spending a little time googling this. Fun times tonight!

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    1. You have nothing to lose but your mind :)

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  5. A fascinating mystery? Another possible scenario...ex-museum pieces? usually photos of '45 Reichstag show a couple of knocked out '88 sangers right in front, which seem to be missing from these shots, could they have been moved to this location as part of a scrap-drive that never gained momentum, having been used and damaged elsewhere in the city?

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    1. No one seems to know, Hugh. There are lots of stories, like the one about a bailed out B17 crewman who was paraded along the Berlin streets on top of one.

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  6. There was a big training area (beyond Spandau to the West of the city I think?), mentioned by Guy Sejure, maybe these were ex-Friecorps 'Gate Guardians'

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    1. Could be. There were quite a number of British Heavies knocking around the east from 1918 to about 1920.

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  7. The second colourised shot seems to show a lady looking at the howitzer (apparently rammed by one of the tanks in later B&W shots), behind the British tank, with a War Memorial in the background?

    I suspect it was all part of a war memorial 'on site'. Although it does look like at least one of them might have been got going, it could just as easily have been pushed...the Soviets clearly shot them up anyhow!

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  8. Sorry John - taking over your post, but I got my claws in!

    Not Reichstag (as you pointed out!), more here...

    http://militaryberlin.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/ww1-tanks-at-the-lustgarten/

    H

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    1. Anyone who knew the answers is dead and many records disappeared in Berlin.

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  9. How utterly fascinating. Incredible images. Thanks for sharing.
    cheers

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  10. Good lord! Who would have thought it!!

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    1. The world is stranger than we imagine.

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