Hamburg Firefly, 75 Years on

Here we see a distinctive long-barreled British Sherman Firefly– a U.S.-made M4 Sherman with British radios and a QF 17-pounder gun– of the famous 7th Armoured Division (Desert Rats) in Hamburg, Germany, 4 May 1945.

IWM Photo BU 5281 by Sgt. A.N. Midgley, No. 5 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit

Fireflies, fielded in 1944, were popular in Western Europe as they could penetrate the armor of German Panthers and the like with ease– something that couldn’t be said of American Shermans.

Another great image of this Firefly taken on the same day by Midgley also exists in the IWM’s collection. Offical caption, “British tanks of the 7th Armoured Division in the center of Hamburg, last war’s memorial is in the background.”

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45 (BU 5284) A Sherman Firefly of 7th Armoured Division in Hamburg, 4 May 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The Hamburg Cenotaph (Hamburger Ehrenmal) by the city hall, was built during the last days of the Weimar era featuring the work of sculptors Claus Hoffmann and Ernst Barlach, although some elements were later “sanitized” by the Nazis. The inscription from 1931 reads, “Vierzigtausend Söhne der Stadt ließen ihr Leben für euch, 1914–1918” (forty thousand sons of this city lost their lives for you)

The memorial is still there.

Photo by Magnus Manske BY-SA 3.0

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