We welcome John Dolbec who for so many years who wrote many news articles about unknown historical facts about our Regiment’s history, Dolbec’s Corner’! John is quite active on Facebook where he shares his wisdom and knowledge of our Regiment. Look him up and become his friend.
We thank him for now contributing to a new medium.
Human losses amongst tank crews in WW2, in Sherman’s in NW Europe anyway, were, on average, about one complete tank crew for every two tanks lost. Casualties included, of course, both Killed in Action (KIA) and Wounded in Action (WIA). The 22nd. Canadian Armoured Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards) of the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division suffered a total of 103 KIA & 242 WIA (total casualties = 345), almost all during the almost 9.5 months of fighting in NW Europe between the end of July 1944 to early May 1945 (in particular, the very heavy fighting in Normandy in August; plus, the Rhineland in February/March). Over that period the Regiment, lost, as complete write offs, a total of 135 tanks out of a full Regimental strength max of eighty vehicles at any one time. Crews averaging 4–5 per vehicle – one of every four tanks in the fighting squadrons being a Firefly, with crews of four. Most of the rest being regular Sherman with crews of five.
The 22CAR (CGG) had just one tank “Ginny” which survived the entire war have travelling 4,200 miles (All CGG tanks names started with the letter “G”). But Ginny been through two engines & three sets of tracks. It had been hit seriously three times by enemy fire in the interim, but each time was repaired and returned to service.
The loss of an entire crew did happen on occasion, i.e., if a tank say “brewed up” too quickly for the crew to escape. However, usually, the portion of a crew that became casualties would depend on where it was hit. I.E., a mortal wound in the turret could take out most of the turret crew (up to three). But if hit in the hull, only the hull crew might become casualties (usually 1 or 2, depending on if a Firefly or not). Tank crews were trained & well-rehearsed (& obviously highly motivated) to bail out of a “hit” tank very quickly, in a matter of seconds, before it could start brewing. “Brewing” was a term that applied to a fire starting inside the tank which could very soon cook off (I.e., start exploding) their own ammunition. This was obviously not a survivable event for anyone remaining inside. The Germans called Sherman’s “Tommy cookers” (Tommy being their nickname for British and Canadians tankers). Allied tankers referred to them as “Ronsons,” in black humour, after the then famous cigarette lighters that promised in ads to “light up – first time, every time.” However, compared to many other tank types of the period, a Sherman was generally considered to be a very “survivable” vehicle.
BURNT-OUT TANK OF THE 22 CANADIAN ARMED REGIMENT, CANADIAN GRENADIER GUARDS, NEAR MEPPEN, GERMANY
Battle for Hill 195 on August 10, 1944. The original picture presented by the Molson Family to the Regiment is on display in the Officers Mess at Home Station.
Colour Sergeant John Dolbec, retired.