Pak40 and crew
Panzerjager Platoon / 8. (Heavy) Company
21st Panzer Division
Emieville, Bois de Bavent
July 18, 1944
Here is a Dragon Pak 40 75mm anti tank gun with a Heer crew.
Crew made of six figures, including the prime mover driver.
Obergefreiter Johan Altman, Gun Commander
Obergefreiter Jan Weiss, Gunner
Gefreiter Helmut Lesser, Loader
Schutze Phillipe Kramer, Ammo Handler
Schutze Willi Neuman, Ammo Handler
Gefreiter Friedrich Schreiner, Opel Maultier Driver/ Ammo Handler
21st Panzer Division
After being destroyed in North Africa, the 21.Panzer-Division was reformed in June of 1943 in France. It remained stationed in France for the next year, being deemed unfit for service on the Eastern Front. The 21.Panzer-Division was still in France when the Allies launched their invasion of Normandy in June of 1944, and the division was thrown into action against the Allied positions as the only Panzer unit to do so on the 1st day of the attack, June 6th. Most of its armor was lost early in the battles, but the Grenadiers of the Division fought in and around Caen for many weeks.
Allied preparatory fire for Operation Goodwood was provided spectacularly by almost 1,000 heavy and medium bombers dropping over 15,000 bombs. The German positions to the east of Caen were carpet-bombed and many of the villages were reduced to rubble, disrupting the German defenses. The shock value of the intense, short bombardment was high. However, the German artillery on the Bourgebus Ridge was not hit by the bombardment and was outside the range of British artillery and by chance the defenders at Cagny and Emieville were largely unscathed. These sites had clear fields of fire into the path of the British advance.
The crew was part of the three gun anti tank platoon of the 8th heavy company.
The platoon had been deployed along the edge of the small town of Emieville, overlooking the farmland to the west. They placed the Pak40 gun in position, and spent the night in the cellar of a nearby abandoned farm house, taking turns on guard duty. They had their Opel Maultier prime mover hidden behind the cover of the trees. The pre-dawn bombardment nearby was frightening, but their area was untouched!
The experienced gun commander, Obergefreiter Altman had a feeling, an attack would come soon.
The allies probably thought of this area as good tank country, but Johan knew it was also good tank-killing country.
Now they just sat around waiting, looking at the horizon and the skies above…
Early in the morning a rumble in the distance…
Here a studio image of the crew: