When we reached the outskirts of Soissons we were on a high ridge overlooking the South road leading into town. The road made a bend and was hidden by a hill. Up the road and behind the hill was a large German column. We did not see them at the time, but they thought they could get into Soissons. The equipment started roaring down the road. I had my tank platoon in line formation and as the vehicles came down the road the platoon took turns firing at them. It was like shooting ducks in a barrel. One large black truck loaded with ammunition ran the gauntlet without a hit. I told my platoon that the "S.B." was not going to get away from me. Down the hill, over the railroad tracks and onto to the road taken by the truck. When I reached the first building I gave Corporal Roberts my gunner, the fire command, at that moment, the truck turned a corner and exposed an antitank gun. One of those hard-tired, choke bore 75MM jobs that we referred to as a "Puma". I yelled down "2" fire. I don't know whether Corporal Roberts ever adjusted or not, but I know we hit the gun. It was completely enveloped in smoke and flame. At that time, boom, boom, boom, boom, four rounds. One round broke my left track, another exploded under the tank, took out the escape hatch and filled the tank with smoke. A third exploded in front of the tank. The engine was still running the tank was still in gear and moving down the road. I had my "Mike" to my mouth when the round in front exploded. A piece of shell fragment hit the "Mike" and out went seven teeth. My driver, Dave Carton, and the bog had already evacuated the tank, and were running back up the road. The tank ran off the track and into a building. My loader, Corporal Roberts and myself bailed out of the tank. We ran across the road, over a rock wall and into the river bottom. The bottom was full of "Stinging Nettle." We made it back to the platoon. What a mess.
When I saw Lt. Farrington, my CO, he chewed my butt for going after the truck and getting the tank knocked out. I told him I was sure I had hit the antitank gun. The next day we went down to see. Dead center perfect. Four dead Germans. One draped over the gun barrel, but across the street, the tracks from another gun and four empty brass shell cases. One covering the other. I had not seen it. Casualties, one-me, but thanks to my `Mike" I was still alive. I was also very lucky that the Germans were firing H.E. Why, I'll never know, unless that was all the ammo they had.
Two days later maintenance brought the tank back to me. We moved to the other side of Soissons and I had my tank in a protective position. We were told to guard the partially blown bridge over the Aisne River. After about three hours, a company of infantry from the 1st Infantry Division arrived and started to cross the bridge. Wham, one round from the German "88" on the hill side away from our position. I estimated the range at about 4,000 yards. The projectile hit my tank at the turret ring, through the left side, across the turret floor, out the right side, and took a tree off about 10 inches in diameter. That, fellow tankers is the epitome of M.V.
The Germans then shelled the road, bridge, and the buildings with H.E. Only one casualty, and that was from my tank. THE STORY OF THE STURGE III "FERDINAND" By Cliff L. Elliot (E133)
Beyne-Heusay Sturge III
After we intercepted the German column at Fleron, (see story by Robert Casey's, This is where I came in). We perceived that there were probably more Germans in Liege and that they would try to get out through the main road at Fleron.
I set my tank in a cross street in Beyne Heusay. It was still light and I told my crew to bore sight the tube. We set the elevation at about six feet. I did not want to hit the front slop plate of a German tank, especially if it was a Panther (Mark V). My tank was about 4 feet from the left buildings, the street was about 25 to 30 feet wide. This gave me an angle of 30 degrees, but it also would put the tank or vehicle 40 feet from our tank before we could fire at it. My crew and I mounted our tank and sat to wait. We had an extra crew member in the tank. My platoon sergeants tank had been knocked out so the rest of my platoon each had an extra crew member. Sergeant Jones was in my tank. We waited for five or six hours. It was as black as the ace of spades, you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. We then heard the steel tracks on the cobble stone street. We knew that we had some worrisome times. A tank, and not some some soft shell vehicle. The German tank would come a little way then stop. He would then come al little further and stop. I could follow the sound on the street. I believe that the German tank commander knew there was an American tank up the street. He just did not know where.
He made one more stop and I believed that I could see a darker shadow. I yelled at my gunner to fire. I could see the sparks fly. Steel on steel. We fired three more times. The end of the "Ferdinand".
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