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hold on...hold on...

the story of a Sherman in Cecina
This story is for Robert Holt and his web site "The 752nd Tank Battalion" which was http://www.752ndtank.com and specifically http://www.752ndtank.com/Cecina.html#tactics , which relates to this specific diorama. This diorama is to honour the service of his father Sergeant Ray Holt, Driver Tank #11, B Company, 3rd Platoon, 752nd Tank Battalion.

Robert Holt and I had a continuous exchange of ideas and information during the entire time this diorama was constructed and all information concerning the 752nd Tank Battalion and photos in this feature are copy righted to him. Additional information and research should also be accredited to Daniele Gualielmi whom assisted Robert Holt in researching the Cecina History.

This diorama depicts the final confrontation between #11 M4A1 of A Company of the 752nd Tank Battalion and Tiger 221 of the 2nd Platoon of the 2nd Company of the 504th Heavy Panzer Battalion. Excerpt from 752nd Web site;

"Just moments before Tiger 221 rounded the curve onto Via Montanara, the crew of Sherman 11 spotted a German infantry soldier in a ditch alongside the road. Unknown to the American tankers, the German scout was acting as a "spotter" for Tiger 221. As the infantry scout stood up to motion the Tiger on, he was immediately hit by machine gun fire, clasping his stomach as he fell.

As the German spotter fell, the Sherman tank crew saw the main gun barrel of Tiger 221 emerge from behind a two-story house on the left side of Via Montanara near the curve in the road. At that moment, Tiger 221 rounded the curve onto Via Montanara and came face to face with the Lieutenant Cox's Sherman, at a distance of 75 to 100 yards.

Both tanks fired simultaneously. The Tiger's 88mm shell struck the ground close to the left side of Cox's Sherman. The concussion of the Tiger's shot lifted the left side of the Sherman off the ground, but no damage was inflicted. At the same instant, the Sherman fired a 75mm armor piercing (AP) round, hitting the lower front hull of the Tiger. Crew members of the Sherman recalled seeing the shell merely bounce off the Tiger's hull. The only damage inflicted upon Tiger 221 by this hit was a chip in the Zimmerit coating, which is clearly visible in after-action photographs.

The two tanks momentarily lost sight of each other in the dust that had been raised by the firing and movement of the tanks. Tiger 221's crew was further handicapped by the loss of their infantry spotter. Lieutenant Cox ordered his driver, Sergeant Raymond Holt, to back Sherman 11 into the dust, and then turn left through a small garden and positions the tank tightly against the wall of a two-story home midway between Via Manzoni and Via Marrucci. In this position, the front of the Sherman was facing Via Trieste, and the rear was facing Via Montanara, where the Tiger remained. Lieutenant Cox then traversed the turret to the rear of his tank, with the main gun at the 5 o'clock position. Lieutenant Cox positioned his tank in that fashion to allow for a more rapid escape in the event that the Tiger approached from their rear and could not be successfully disabled. He had taken a calculated risk that the Tiger 221 would continue along its original path, and cross in front of their traversed main gun.

Sherman 11 maintained this position for several minutes, while the German armor (or perhaps U.S. artillery) shelled the surrounding buildings. When the shelling stopped, Tiger 221 slowly lumbered down Via Montanara, unaware of the position of Cox's Sherman. In recent interviews, Tiger 221's crew members say that they believed the Sherman was in some brush to their 11 o'clock position.

The time was 2045 hours. Tiger 221 slowly rumbled down Via Montanara, crossing the position of Sherman 11, which was hidden behind the building. With its crew unaware of Sherman 11's position, the Tiger moved perpendicular to the Sherman's rear and directly in front of its traversed main gun. As Tiger 221 slowly crossed before them, Lieutenant Cox calmly told his gunner "Hold on, hold on…" until the Tiger was squarely in front of them. Employing a tactic that exploited the Tiger's thinly armoured sides, Lieutenant Cox then gave the order to unleash an armour piercing (AP) round through the Tiger's right rear sponson, into the fuel tank.

Crew members of Sherman 11 estimate that they were between 25 and 30 yards from Tiger 221 when they fired. The very close range is corroborated by infantry eyewitness reports, by the commendation for the Silver Star that was later presented to Lieutenant Cox, and by detailed maps and photographic evidence.

The 75mm AP round penetrated Tiger 221's hull and immediately ignited the fuel tank. Eyewitnesses from both the 133rd Infantry and the Sherman crew say that Tiger 221's engine compartment burst into flames when it was hit. Just a few seconds later, Sherman 11 fired another round into the Tiger's right track for good measure, severing it."

About the Author

About Robert Card (BobCard)


hi bob, wow...very nice. i like the historical facts and details of your work. and the photography is perfect..the eye level shot and the sight waiting to fire on the tiger is beautifully done. seconds on making a history. thanks for sharing. ed thanks henk for the thread. ed
DEC 25, 2008 - 12:59 PM
Very-very nice! Very qualitative work..
DEC 26, 2008 - 12:03 PM
Super interesting story and depiction.
DEC 26, 2008 - 03:32 PM
Thanks again everyone for the great replys, Bob
DEC 29, 2008 - 01:56 AM
Hi Bob, Great tribute and a cracking dio. Excellent stuff. Al
JAN 01, 2009 - 02:03 AM
A bit late catching this feature, but it is very well done. It catches all the details of the story very well, while the layout focuses on the action. Nicely done.
JAN 04, 2009 - 03:00 PM
I read over the write up and looked over the photos of the build and WWII after the action. Let me add my compliments on a job well done and great write up. As mentioned in the write up, the Tiger's main gun was in full recoil.out of battery. If one did look at the photo without researching the back ground, it does look as the crew destroyed the tank, not knock out from combat. In the book Tigers in Combat I, it did mentioned the loss of Tiger 211 in combat, but no details. So how did the main gun get into its after action 'out of battery?' Were there any ammunition 'cook offs' after the Tiger was on fire? One possiblity is the recoil fluid leaked out from the hits and then the round in the main gun breach went off from the fire and the main gun went into full recoil. An idea for a follow on diorama is to have the knock out Tiger with the Sherman crew member in front of it getting his photo taken, as in the picture.
JAN 08, 2009 - 03:25 AM
First thanks Alan, Kent and Duane for the comments. Duane, The ammo did cook off, In one of the photos of 221 you can see a 2inch gap on the deck plate where it seperated. The idea of making an after Tiger is a good one because of the excellent photos. Just way to much to do with so little time. Thanks again everyone for taking the time to comment, Bob
JAN 08, 2009 - 09:24 AM
Hi Bob a truly stunning dio what scale is it?
JAN 08, 2009 - 09:41 AM
Hi Lyndon, it's 1:35 scale. Thanks for looking, Bob
JAN 08, 2009 - 09:45 AM