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15 October 2014
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First Capture of a Tiger Tank

by Essex Action Desk

Contributed by 
Essex Action Desk
People in story: 
Corporal William (Bert) Beavis
Location of story: 
Djebel Djaffa (Near Hell Fire Pass)
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 April 2005

I volunteered to join the Army but at first they would not take me because I was a bus driver and thought to be too old. I went back a month later and told them I was a Bus Conductor and they let me in. In 1942 I was based in Egypt, aged 28.

My task was to pick up tanks. One day I made a fantastic discovery. I approached the Tiger Tank that was sitting on top of a sand dune. I asked my crew to drive around it to see if anyone was inside. I would drop off on the blind side of the transporter with my 303. I fired two shots and there was no one inside. I returned to my unit, and was ordered to take the Tiger Tank to the Reme Workshops in Cairo.

This is where many would be repaired or kept. However this Tiger Tank was in perfect condition. The tanks would be assesed for their technology and to discover any weaknesses to fight back against the enemy. This was an impotant find.

I took the 60 ton tank on a 20 ton transport carrier and recovery vehicle. This was 200 miles away and I had a speed of 15 miles an hour. When I unloaded it, I found the transporter had a busted chasis with the weight of the tank. This event occured many months before the battle of Allermane, which was an important landmark.

I have never been given recognition for being the first person to capture a Tiger Tank, to this day.

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Message 1 - First Capture of a Tiger Tank

Posted on: 16 April 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Mr Beavis

Are you sure it was a Tiger? The first Tiger in Tunisia was not engaged in action until 1 December 1942; none were captured in 1942.

The first Tiger tank captured in Africa was knocked out in action with Churchill tanks of No. 4 Troop, A Squadron, 48th Royal Tank Regiment at Medjez-el-Bab on 21 April 1943. The capture of this tank is fully documented both in Britain and in Germany

Full details are here F2031300?thread=601423




Message 2 - First Capture of a Tiger Tank

Posted on: 16 April 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Mr Beavis -
as Peter righly states - there were no Tigers in the desert campaign and certainly not before the El Alamein battle of Oct 23 - Nov 4th 1942.

What you possibly picked up was a modified Mk1V with the extended barrel of their special 75mm gun, this made modifications necessary to the turret.

There were one or two Tigers knocked out in Tunisia but too many of them had transmission and other problems and were not too reliable until later in '43 and certainly in '44 in Italy
especially when they were joined by the MkV - Panther - they were a scary animal duo !
But again - many of them were knocked out...two Panthers fell to Pte "Smoky" Smith of the Canadian Seaforth Highlanders near the Savio River in Northern Italy which earned him the V.C. The second one was ditched and recovered and presented to "A" squadron of the 145th regt RAC and used against the enemy in a few actions - the main problem was that there was only an inch clearance each side when crossing a Bailey bridge
which was a bit tight as there were too many rivers to cross ! See my story of "Two Great Men"

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